Redefining Black Belt

We define black belt in all sorts of ways – commitment, courage, humanity. And across the world you’d be hard-pressed to find two people who agree exactly on what it means. Is it a perfect technique? A demonstration of mental toughness? An ideal of perfection? So I’m going to step out on a limb here and … [Read more…]

Pizza & Beer & Martial Arts

As students, we often develop very powerful relationships in the dojo. But over time, it’s easy to let something other than the martial arts – like drinking beers or eating pizza (as in, “let’s just grab some peetzer and beerz!”) – become the cornerstone of our connections. The bond goes from being productive to destructive, because we no longer take a stand for … [Read more…]

Beyond Win and Lose

What’s the alternative? Revisiting an old martial arts maxim provides a clue. There is a meme I see from time to time on Facebook that always makes me cringe. It goes something like this: “Beware of the person who is not smiling when you’re winning.” It’s as if to say that this person is your enemy, a snake … [Read more…]

How to Live and How to Die

Martial arts, as traditionally taught, has always been about life and death. For millennia it has presented the practitioner with a way to live better – as well as how to die better. In our context, “life” is to survive and then to succeed. “Death” is to live a memorable, fulfilling life with principle, and … [Read more…]

Peeing On The Bed

I’ve actually never told anybody this story because I’m not so proud of it. But I believe there’s a lesson in here for those of us who do Jiu-Jitsu and strive for a better practice. Growing up I was very, very poor. There were times when there wasn’t a lot of food – that kind of poor. And … [Read more…]

The things that matter most

In the 1980s, when I was doing karate, our running joke was that Americans would do karate and then all of a sudden, they’d have a Japanese accent.  We laughed at them – they’d been practicing for five months and suddenly they acted like they were Japanese. Then in the 1990s, I noticed the same phenomenon … [Read more…]