The Easy Overdose Podcast (T.E.O.) Ep. #5

This week the guys get deep into some fight talk (Klitschko v. Joshua, Canelo vs Chavez, Jr., Demian Maia v. Jorge Masvidal) then follow it up by a deep dive into Millennial music, 808 jams, etc. Chayanne repeats his claim that Millennials are shit people while Jorge, the Gen-Yer, talks about how rap died after Ice Cube.


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

On the Gentle Art #1


I began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu about a year and a half ago. I had wanted to train since I first saw it in action on a VHS tape that my friend and I rented from Blockbuster Videos for $1.99 a day. It was the spring of 2000. By then, the tape was already nearly seven years old and was tucked away in the back of the store with the “seedy” material: wrestling tapes and those other works of art deemed to be of the lewd persuasion.

From the opening scene, my friend and I were in for a brutal and shocking display of human aggression. I wouldn’t say that it was novel because I grew up in a neighborhood where violence was on display almost daily and sometimes to deadly effect. No, it was shocking because I didn’t think that this kind of violence would ever be allowed to take place in an arena, watched as a spectacle, and videotaped for posterity. A quaint idea, I know, in today’s world of Youtube fight videos where the current iteration of the UFC is civilized compared to what is on display throughout the internet.

As we watched the fights unfold, we readily expected the procession of brutish competitors to scale-up the violence, but then something happened. A slight, meek, Brazilian competitor dressed in white pajamas walked out from the locker room, accompanied by a line of other guys that looked like him, including a really old guy that was introduced as his father. I can’t remember what my friend was thinking but I remember well what I was thinking. This guy is going to get murdered! Will they actually videotape a murder? I grew up watching boxing and still love the “sweet science” to this day. That had weight classes and for very good reason! I had seen plenty of fights in my life until that point and they hardly ever went well for the little guy, unless of course the little guy was armed, in my neighborhood usually with a knife, gun-play was always kept a nocturnal activity, and I was usually fast asleep by then.

So the little guy walks into the cage and I was scared for him. I’m a little guy and I hate watching helpless people getting attacked. I saw and experienced plenty of that growing up. I walked around scared of the bullies and always kept my guard up as most prey animals do. So my sympathetic nervous system kicked into overdrive. I knew what was going to happen but I could not turn away. It would be brutal but at least it would be over quickly. The referee would step in. It wouldn’t be like in my neighborhood. This little guy would at least have someone to stop it.

And then it happened. The little pajama wearing guy won! It looked like magic. He wasn’t throwing brutal kicks or punches. He somehow managed to wrap himself around the big guy, took him down, and unbelievably drained his will to fight. The big guy gave up but he wasn’t visibly brutalized. The little guy did this to all of the fighters he faced that night and each time he dispatched his foe more quickly and in a less violent manner. It looked like his fighting style somehow drained the aggression from the cage. He not only smothered his opponents but the bloodlust of the entire spectacle. There was something beautiful in his fighting if you could even call it fighting. Wait was he even fighting? His face didn’t seem to show it. He wasn’t bearing his teeth, he wasn’t angry, he was, would you believe…calm.

I wanted to watch more and thankfully Blockbuster carried several more UFC tapes. I watched again and again as this same little guy in the white pajamas defeated foe after foe in the same calm manner. I was sold. There was a method here, a technique, an unseen science, and art in his fighting. It was something that spoke to me as a little guy. Then finally some fourteen years later, I began to understand what it was.

© J. Manuel Writes