Tuesday, July 22, 2014

5 Minute Book Report: The Martial Apprentice by Roy Dean

I recently stumbled across Roy Dean's ebook The martial apprentice. The price was right as a $0 download on my kindle! The book was not, however, what I expected.

Roy Dean is primarily known as a BJJ instructor. His instructional DVDs are notable for the quality of both instruction and production. He is a black belt under Roy Harris but also holds black belts in judo, Aikido, and Japanese Jujitsu.

Surprisingly, The martial apprentice is not about BJJ. Instead, it is Roy's story of dedicating himself to the martial arts. The book describes:
  • Roy's inadvertent sojourn to Japan as an exchange student.
  • A few lessons about the important of training judo
  • Another sojourn, this time to North Bay Ontario (!) to finish high school, discover the UFC, and become obsessed with Aikido
  • A return to Alaska to train Aikido, work an office job, do some baggage handling, and learn some garage-style BJJ
  • 15 months as an uchideschi in California (followed by additional training) to study jujitsu and Aikido
  • The discovery of BJJ 
  • The importance of belt testing -- particularly shodan -- as a means of discovering your peak performance capabilities
  • Life experiences along the way
Only in the conclusion does Dean mention the next stage of his training. He promises us a follow-up volume that details his experiences with Roy Harris in San Diego.

Overall, the book is very entertaining and deals with some interesting issues such as the best martial art (basically, the one that you're willing to train), the importance of rigorous training, the types of people that train (according to Dean there are philosophers, fighters, and athletes), and the janus-nature of MMA.

If you've spent time training a martial art -- particularly Aikido -- the book is worth the read. It makes an interesting companion to books like Angry white pyjamas and American Shaolin, particularly because it was written by a martial artist who writes, rather than a writer who does martial arts. There is a difference.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

One new skill and 20 minutes of drill

It's a new slogan of sorts for me:

Everyday: One new skill and 20 minutes of drill

The idea came to me in the context of BJJ. What can I do everyday to become better? I have four kids and a busy life that often keeps off the mats so what can I do? It occurred to me that I could work to learn (or at least research) a new technique or opening every day. BJJ is a gift that never stops giving and there is a wealth of techniques to learn. I don't need five or ten every day; I just need one.

So, I can learn one new skill a day... but I'll probably forget that skill almost as quickly. Therefore, I also have to drill in order to lay down the basis for remembering. BJJ is best learned with a partner but I'll do what I can without one. Hip positioning for guard work, for example, just takes a heavy bag and daily repetition.

One new skill and 20 minutes of drill makes sense for BJJ. But it also works for other domains. Want to get better at your job? What about your relationships? How about your other hobbies? Just ask:

  • What do I have to learn?
  • What do I have to practice?
And do it every day. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

That's right... grain free

I'm doing a 60 day no grain challenge. My primary motivation is to fix my knee so I'm trying to eliminate those things that are inflammatory. And, for me, giving up grains is a decent heuristic. What's success? Basically, a knee that does what it did. Some questions:

So, paleo?

  • Pretty much. 
Are you gluten intolerant?
  • No... but my boys are so it probably makes sense for me to avoid it. That said, it seems that everything that I know that I shouldn't eat has wheat and/or gluten so I'll give it up.
No grains... at all?
  • I will make a few minor exceptions. I'm giving myself up to about 1/2 cup of cold white rice a day. It's the sushi exemption. Cold white rice also has a good hit of resistant starch so I'm okay with it.
  • I'm going to eat corn on the cob at the cottage during the month of August. Why? Because it's absolutely delicious.
  • I'll try not to be an ass. If an old friend buys me a beer, I'll drink it; if my kids bake me a birthday cake, I'll eat it; if a village of starving peasants honours me with a tray of cucumber sandwiches, I'll eat them! You get the idea.
What will you eat?
  • There's the meat in my freezer (lots) and my garden is really just crushing it with kale. That will do for now.
What about bacon?
  • I love it but I've discovered that it can't be a staple. For whatever reason, saturated fat sends my LDL high. I'm not convinced that high LDL is a bad thing, but in general I feel that any metric that is three or four standard deviations beyond the mean is potentially dangerous.
What drove you to this?