Guest Post: Progress, Stagnation, and Helping Your People

This is a guest post from my close friend Scott which was spurred by some conversations we had about stagnation, frustration, and moving past training plateaus. We have been discussing being truly helpful to those who come to us for advice and support. Scott is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and a dedicated multidisciplinary self-defense practitioner. He walks the walk. He had great thoughts on the subject, so I just asked him to write something for you guys. Here it is.

 

A post shared by Mark L (@growingupguns) on

Negative Self Talk

Sometimes we get into our own heads. Sometimes we let people get into them who don’t belong there.

I recently was awarded my brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and even though most folks in the know would likely say that at this point I wouldn’t have a problem doing just fine in most jiu-jitsu schools, there are plenty if times when I feel like I have no business tying a jiu-jitsu belt on at all. This is me, introducing doubt that I know isn’t real but still takes a bunch of time to move past. The thing that helps me is talking to my coaches and training partners about these things and being reassured that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. That’s how a team or tribe is supposed to behave. To support each other, particularly when a member comes to you basically saying “I need help.” Sometimes it’s just a 2 minute pep talk, and sometimes we need hands-on, direct assistance with an issue. I’ve been fortunate to have a great jiu-jitsu training environment that provides that type of support in spades.

YOU’RE NOT HELPING

Having given an example of the ideal situation, let’s examine its opposite. What’s really unfortunate is that this opposite is a common thing. If we’re really interested in seeing the people who we would consider our friends, family, tribe members, etc., grow then this opposite needs to be addressed.

If you’ve ever told someone to simply just –
Be faster
Be stronger
Squeeze harder
Lose weight
Read more
Suck it up

…or any variant of the above, with no offer of actual assistance to the person asking, outside of those “recommendations”, you are far more of a hindrance than help and you probably should have abstained from commenting. Captain Obvious doesn’t have a seat at the table here.

what you owe your peers

Most folks who would have read this far are on some type of personal journey towards betterment in any number of varied pursuits. If we mean to make our individual selves better, to be a greater service to the whole, at some point we’re going to need some help in one way or another. If we’re smart, we’ll ask for it. If our people are truly our people, they’ll offer up their help and make good on that offer. That last part can become a rarity. Life happens to all of us, but if you say you’ll be there, move mountains. Don’t be that guy. Honor and Loyalty are real things that actually hold weight with your peers. If you don’t take yours seriously, the ones who do will have a hard time taking you seriously.

Also, on helping people… If you know someone is working towards something, let them know that you notice that. Not with criticism or resistance, but with positive pressure. Proclaiming “that’s stupid” to someone who didn’t ask (outside of a safety issue) is pretty rude and inconsiderate. I don’t enjoy being rude and inconsiderate to the people that I trust and care about and I’d bet they don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of it. Particularly if they are doing work that you aren’t doing. Don’t like lifting weights? That’s fine, but don’t dump on someone who does or ask them to skip a workout for sit-around-and-do-nothing time. If what a person is doing is important to them and will lead them to being a happier person, you should be a borderline cheerleader for them.

Dressing up for the part is on you, but a text or phone call saying, “how was it this week?” can go a long way towards helping your people stay on track. This appears to especially be an issue with significant others. I’ve seen way too many times one person wanting to pursue a goal and the other half of the relationship putting the brakes on it through complaining or resisting the idea. If you do that, you are hands-down being a prick. Stop that. Your selfish tendencies are preventing what is supposed to be one of the people you care for the most from realizing their goals or seeking out their own happiness are absolutely zero help in what is very likely an already strained relationship. We can’t make each other happy, but we should get out of the way when one of our people are making moves to find their own happiness. If it’s a training partner that is thinking about picking up a new routine, going to a new gym, taking classes with a different instructor, reading a new author, or trying a different diet, support them. Let your people know that you support them. Confidence breeds competence, and in turn competence breeds greater confidence.

If you happen to be a winner of the genetic lottery, try to be patient with those of us who aren’t. That’s not to say that those blessed individuals aren’t working, but the fact is that some things come easier to some than they do others. Just because a person doesn’t have sub-.25sec splits on a shot timer, hasn’t lost all of those 50lbs, can’t run an 8 minute mile, or doesn’t have a 2.5x bodyweight deadlift doesn’t mean that they’re not working, either. If you want to help folks, volunteer to actually show up and help. Just giving one sentence’s worth of criticism over the internet doesn’t really help anyone at all and kind of makes you look like a douchebag to the rest of the readers.

If the goal is to grow your family, team, or tribe, making sure that they not only know that they belong there, but are made to belong there through the shared efforts of the group is a good idea.

If you are one of those people like the rest of us – keep plugging away. Don’t let yourself talk you into quitting and definitely don’t let outside voices lead you off course. Find good people who like what they do and are good at what they do to surround yourself with.

“It’s not the critic who counts….” – Teddy Roosevelt

Scott F.

If you find value in my ramblings, please subscribe, share, and shop through our amazon affiliate link.

If It Is Important, Do It Everyday

“If it is important, do it every day, if it isn’t, don’t do it at all.”

-Olympic Gold Medalist Dan Gable

This year my primary goal is to work on my discipline. The way I’ve chosen to practice discipline is to pick several tasks that I will do EVERY DAY, whether I feel like it or not. I’ve dabbled in daily habitual practices, but I never would sweat it much if I missed a day or ten. This year is different.

Technology To Keep Me On Track

To help keep me on track, I’m using a simple service called NAGBOT. It texts you a reminder every day at a chosen time and asks if you’ve done whatever your daily goal is. It uses humorous responses depending on your answers. I have mine set to remind me of my tasks at 7pm, so there’s still enough time to do everything in case I forgot.

I’m getting used to having a robot nag me into doing work.

What Am I Doing Everyday?

I’ve chosen four tasks:

  1. Keep A Journal of daily events and martial arts training notes.
  2. Do 100 pushups every day.
  3. Do Dry-Fire practice every day.
  4. Actively practice Stoicism every day.
Why Journal?

I did a lengthy post on this recently. Check it and see if you think it’s worth doing.

Click to be routed to a nice 2017 Journal to start your record keeping journey.

Why 100 pushups?

My sport is Jiu Jitsu, which I train three times a week. It involves a lot of pulling muscles and flexibility. I’m still technically recovering from a stem cell transplant, so I have limited energy and recovery power. So I chose to do a daily ‘pushing’ exercise to compliment the ‘pulling’ that Jiu Jitsu gets me. Here’s Coach Dan John talking about the fundamental human movements. So far this year I’ve done 2,500 pushups. They add up quickly. 36,500, here I come!

Stoicism and Dry-Fire go together like peas and carrots… or something…
Why Dry-fire?

Dry-fire, while boring to some, is a great way to maintain and improve aspects of your shooting for an extremely low cost (read: free). I also find it meditative. Here’s The Tactical Professor explaining how to avoid “Grabastic Gunclicking”. I subscribe to his method of concise limited duration dry-fire, then I get on with my life. It is (in theory) never more than 24 hours since I’ve seen a sight picture and pressed a trigger. There is no downside to that in my eyes from a defensive shooting perspective. It’s about how recently, not how much you last practiced.

The Dry-Fire range is hidden behind a painting. There is a brick fireplace behind this wall. Set it up, practice, and put it away.
Why Daily Stoicism?

Ever since I read A Guide To The Good Life (link to my book review here), Stoicism has been on my mind almost daily. I have lacked the discipline and guidance to have meaningful study though. One of the key aspects to practicing is daily reflection. Luckily, a book exists that helps provide a short daily quote from a Stoic’s writing and paragraph to reflect on. I don’t know enough about Stoicism to prosthelytize, but I know it resonates with me fundamentally, so I’ll study it daily. The book is The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living.

Completing these four tasks every day is something that has become very important to me. I know there will be days when I don’t feel like completing those tasks. It is in those moments that I force myself to that real growth happens.

Discipline equals freedom.

Thanks for reading. Let me know what you’re doing to develop  your discipline.

Mark

If you find value in my posts, please consider subscribing and sharing. And please do your Amazon shopping through our affiliate link.

Review: Defensive Applications of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu DVD

Today I received a package from Cecil Burch of Immediate Action Combatives. Cecil sent me both of his PDN produced DVDs. I’ll briefly talk about Cecil’s training pedigree, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) as a superior combative system on the ground, then about the material contained in the DVD.

pdn_dvd_cover

Cecil has been training in BJJ since 1994 under Megaton Dias. He is a black belt and has extensive competition experience and success. You can read his full bio on his website. I only mention it to let you know he is a subject matter expert when it comes to grappling. He also is one of the major innovators when it comes to the integration of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu into a weapons based environment. BJJ is tremendous for self defense against a single unarmed opponent. More importantly, as Cecil and his colleagues teach and demonstrate, it is probably the best delivery system for denying your opponent access (and enabling your access) to weapons while grounded. It just takes a critical eye, some adaptations, and pressure testing techniques to see what works.

cecil-burch-hip-escape-header2

The DVD has the usual excellent production value you’d expect from PDN, with the DVD broken down into chapters with summary notes at the end of each. If you get this DVD, have a buddy (or understanding spouse) with whom you can practice. You’ll NEVER own the material unless you get down on the ground and do the work. Most gun people are resistant to the idea and “carry this gun so I don’t have to wrestle”. The reality is rarely that tidy. You might end up rolling around in the mud, piss, and broken beer bottles in an alley over a knife. Having at least a modicum of ground skill is crucial for all gun owners (everyone really). Even better would be joining a local BJJ school and putting in the work. I digress… the DVD…

Topics Include:

  1. Hierarchy of Intent
  2. Conceptual Escape Formula
  3. Survival Posture Unarmed (and against a weapon)
  4. Hip Bridge
  5. Hip Escape
  6. Complete the Escape
  7. Guard Fundamentals
  8. Getting to the feet
  9. VS a standing attacker, when grounded

What makes Cecil a great teacher is his ability to distill two decades of knowledge into an easily digestible ‘essentials’ list that he can fit into a weekend seminar for NON-GRAPPLERS! This video is even more condensed at only about an hour. The Hierarchy of Intent and Escape Formula give a bird’s eye view of ‘the fight’ on the ground. It’s about as old school Jiu Jitsu as you can get, but it’s totally applicable to a weapons based environment.

Cecil has told me that he approaches his teaching to start from a worst case. The reason being that if you can dig yourself out of the deepest hole, everything else is easy. So the instruction starts from the assumption that you have been knocked to the ground, possibly by a sucker punch, and goes from there. The Survival Posture denies even a relatively skilled grappler immediate access to submissions against you, and therefor works well against an untrained person.

Once you’ve survived the initial assault, you need to be able to move while there’s someone on top of you to make enough room to put more of your body between yourself and them. Enter the Hip Bridge and Hip Escape. This gives you a vertical and horizontal escape route to reorient and gain a more favorable position. Once you’ve done this, you can finalize your escape from the bottom and escape or fight as needed.

Cecil then goes over Guard basics. Both closed guard and long range open guard. He then covers getting up.

That’s a lot of stuff to go over in an hour. However, I really think that even an unskilled grappler using this material, and practicing with a partner regularly, can get a functional understanding of these positions and will have a better chance.

I would recommend this DVD to any ‘gun guy/gal’ who recognizes the need for basic ground fighting survival skills.

Next Up: I’ll review his “Surviving the Knockout Game” DVD.

Mark