On the Gentle Art #3

bjj evolve

Does size matter? Well, let me pose the question differently. Does mass matter? If you’re Catholic I guess it does to some extent, but no I’m not talking about that mass, the one with God. I’m talking about the mass with the God-particle; the Higgs-Boson to be precise. The Higgs, unlike the aforementioned God, didn’t create the universe, and no one claims that it did, but it does do one thing that matters (forced pun), and that is that it gives substance to um… matter. Higgs particles interact with one another to create a Higgs field, and when matter interacts with the field it gains mass, at least that is the theory. Think about this the next time you are stuck under someone’s mount, and you’ll realize quickly one of two things: One: quantum physics sucks hard; Two: you shouldn’t be thinking about quantum physics when someone is crushing the life out of your lungs.

Well back to the science lesson. You see as the particles interact with the field they gain mass. Some particles are more massive than others, and matter with more particles tends to have more mass. As we scale up out of the quantum realm, which is quite a weird, counter intuitive place, we surface into the “normal” world; the one where things behave in more predictable, common sense ways, and where normal physics restores order. Now back to being stuck under mount.

Imagine that you are stuck under a training partner who outweighs you by 50lbsyour skill set being equal or within grappling distance (no striking on the BJJ mats, that’s frowned upon). Well your opponent has the Higgs working heavily (pun) on his side (it could be a she, but I’m guessing she wouldn’t appreciate you talking about her weight, and she might hold onto a submission longer than necessary). Unfairly, there is more of him interacting with the Higgs field than there is of you and it’s all on your chest. Now how do you overcome this predicament? Well you summon what you know about BJJ. Use Classical Physics to combat Quantum Physics. In BJJ this means one thing: Leverage! Archimedes famously stated, “Give me a lever large enough, and a place to stand, and I will move the world.” (Citation omitted). Who am I to argue with Archimedes, or lever mechanics?

We’ve all done it; changed a tire, used a car jack, a pulley, a wrench, all to make whatever task we had to accomplish that much easier. In BJJ, the same principle applies. You don’t use force against force, especially when your partner’s force is greater than yours, that’s a losing propositionremember quantum physics! (Oh yeah, I forgot. More mass gives you more gravity too, and on Earth you experience that as weight; the force that is measured in the pounds or kilograms that are crushing your chest.) So you, a jiujitero, redirect the force, or apply your smaller amount of force against a place where there is an imbalance in your partner’s force. If there isn’t an imbalance, you create one: Leverage! So how do you escape the mount of a larger opponent? The answer is create a force imbalance using your levers. (1) Tie-up one of your opponents arms to remove an anchor of stability. (2) Ensure that your power base, hips (fulcrum), is under your partner’s base of balance. (3) Trap one of your partner’s legs by placing your leg outside of theirs. (4) Apply your force through your hips by bumping and bridging your body in the direction of the trapped arm and leg. (Your legs are the lever through which you deliver the force to your hips which act as the fulcrum to move your heavier partner.)

Now the basic mount escape detailed above should work. Notice I said should. The should takes into account the very real possibility that your partner knows what he is doing and may counteract your force by shifting his base in a manner where he redirects your force, and you end up right where you began namely under the crushing weight of his body, the world, and the God-particle. Fuck you Quantum Physics!

Part #4 will come once I figure out another mount escape.

© J. Manuel Writes


The Furies – Serial #3

BP 2

The warm sun’s rays shone through the living room window panes, kissing Luz’s cheeks with the novelty of a newfound lover. She smiled at its comforting, life-giving caress behind her shut eyelids, and yawned and stretched for a few moments careful not to wake anyone from their slumber. It was an easy Sunday morning. She couldn’t recall the last one she’d had. It was always rush, rush, rush, work, work, work with her, but today she was taking it slow. She owed it to herself. No one else mattered today.

Luz stretched one more time, yawning several more before she opened her eyes to the world. Sho, Ken’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, had taken advantage of her once again and had buried himself between her legs. The poor thing had suffered from Syringomyelia which gave him seizures and caused great discomfort, but he lay still upon her lap at peace under her petting palm.

Ken lay curled up on the other end of the couch. He slept with his left arm cradling his head, his muscular arms framing it like a model in pose. She hadn’t seen him like this in a while. A white tee shirt and jeans, nothing more needed for a girl to get excited, but she wouldn’t bother him. He needed his rest today. There were plenty of football games to be played—fantasy, and the real ones, too. No, today she’d let him rest. She wouldn’t nag him like she always did. He hated that. Plus, today was her day anyways, though she didn’t have the slightest idea of how she’d spend it. Maybe a mani-pedi? Luz closed her eyes momentarily and smiled at the thought. Oh, and chocolate, there would be plenty of that—Ghirardelli, for sure!

Luz moved the stiff Sho from her lap and rose quietly so as not to disturb the serenity of the scene. Coffee! Ken would love some. She’d didn’t care for it, but she’d grown accustomed since she and Ken had been together. He was a drinker. She tiptoed to the kitchen and brewed some anyway, out of habit, and began to cook the eggs—over-easy, always over-easy. She always seemed to manage to mess them up even though they had been together for a year, next July 14th. Three months hardly seemed enough time to plan the anniversary. She rattled about in the kitchen for a moment, quickly peeking out to see if she’d disturbed anyone. No, thankfully everyone was still asleep. Good. She liked making Sunday breakfast. Ken liked a hearty meal before church. Sho always had to be fed and walked as well, but she was sure that they wouldn’t mind if she snuck out today.

Luz stepped back from the kitchen table after an hour, hands on her hips. She had outdone herself today. “Eat your heart out, Martha Stewart!” Luz giggled and covered her mouth, almost ruining the surprise. Mani-pedi for sure! She had earned it. She untied her apron quickly and pulled it off with a snap. She hung it back on its hanger carefully, like so. Yup, just like that—she had to make sure.

Ken and Sho hadn’t budged from their comfy spots on the couch, though she could’ve sworn that the darned dog had buried itself deeper into the couch. Luz smirked and shook her head. What she put up with! Well, today wasn’t the day to question it. She had places to go, and well, maybe she’d see people, too.

She hurried silently down the hall to the bedroom and got changed. She’d wear her Sunday finest today; a midi-skirt, lace top, and a pushup bra and thong she’d kept from Ken. Well, it was going to be a surprise. Pumps? Sure. She smirked widely now. She was bold today. The sun gleamed through the bedroom windows against her bare, fare skin and she reveled in it. Satori, rubbed herself against her calves, startling Luz for a moment. Luz picked up the stray cat that she’d let in the house the night before. She purred to her and she purred back. Her sable fur tickled softly against Luz’s cheeks. “Shush. I’ll be back. Don’t worry,” Luz whispered as she put the mangy stray back into the closet where she’d kept her for the night.

Ken hated cats, but maybe he’d let her keep her. Sho marched in lockstep with his master, so he didn’t care much for them either.

Luz powdered up before she gathered her things. No sense in getting her hands and feet in order if the rest of her looked like Hell. She snuck back down the hall and gave a last look into the living room where man and his best friend lay. She blew them a quick kiss and walked out of the door.

It wasn’t until she reached the mall that someone noticed that Luz was covered in blood: Ken’s, Sho’s, and hers. The police would find two victims on the couch and the third in the bathroom.

© J. Manuel Writes

On the Gentle Art #2


If there is one thing that I enjoy, it’s learning. I’ve never been a good studentnot in the classical sense at leastjust ask my Sunday School teachers. What I mean is that I have always despised sitting in a classroom, in stasis, while a teacher drones on. This may be due to some undiagnosed A.D.D., but I chalk it up to the ease with which I find boredom. I think that I got lucky to have gone through K-12 when I did because I wasn’t much for standardized nor standard tests either. I was the kid who broke 80 on everything just to keep my parental overlords happyexcept of course in science.

I was drawn to science because I was, and at times still am, a smug little brat. You all know the kid that asked why a million times? That was me. Though at the time, I didn’t know that I was being smug. (The omission is intentional.) Yes, science placated my entitled sense of wanting to know everything, though I thought I already had that covered. It allowed me to ask the question without being smacked down for asking it because of some hidden insecurity in its poweragain ask my Sunday School teachers. But science did do one more thing; it let me test my questions, and that made me realize that I didn’t know anything.

And here I was on the mat some twenty-three years later, having watched plenty of UFC videos, my mind full of preconceived notions of what Royce Gracie had done, and thinking okay I have a basic understanding of what is going on. Boy was I wrong! Here is where I pull the veil away from Jiu Jitsu for those of you that don’t already know; there is nothing gentle about the gentle art! What doesn’t come through in the Jiu Jitsu videos and the instructional books is its inherent difficulty. Jiu Jitsu doesn’t care about your preconceived notions of it, just as science doesn’t care what you think, and both dish out quick and real, some would say cruel, lessons to the uninitiated. Why the similarities between the two? The answer is simple. Jiu Jitsu is science; Physics to be precise.

Walk into any Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school and you will undoubtedly see a group of people partnered up and rolling around on the ground literally trying to rip each others limbs off or choke each other unconsciousin a friendly way of course. The key phrase being each other. They are competing against one another and no one is standing there being the willing dummy. Let’s give quarter here for the time in class when the professor is teaching the technique, but after that, it is up to the individual students to put the technique into action against live opponents who are also trying to put the technique into practice against them. Let’s just say that the result is often a furball of movement that results in stalemate, and therein lies the scienceNewton’s Third Law of Motionfor every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Stalemate is the median state of most Jiu Jitsu, boring to some spectators, but infinitely tiring, frustrating, and difficult to those who practice it. (Science much?)

In this toil, frustration, and adversity is where truth is discovered. This is where hypotheses come to be tested and buried, and where Theory is ultimately revealed. The mat is the laboratory, and your body and that of your opponent, are parts of the experiment. When the buzzer sounds, signaling the end of the round, the experiment is over. You lie on the mats reflecting on your victory or defeat (I, mostly on defeat) hoping that some small truth was revealed, hoping that maybe you are one experiment closer to unlocking the Physics of Jiu Jitsu. You are yet again painfully aware that there is no magic to it, and no magic to save you, just the hard science that you have yet to understand. But I find comfort in this because I still have many unanswered questions.

© J. Manuel Writes