Reading The Signs

If you keep seeing the same problems reoccurring in your life, then you have to ask yourself what you are doing to create these problems. It’s up to you to change yourself or the situation. Failure is tough and painful. It’s a slap in the face. However, sometimes, it’s exactly what you need to wake yourself up.

Back On The Mats, Part 2

Coming back to jiu-jitsu after such a long time has been wonderful for me. Training jiu-jitsu gives me so much purpose. Knowing that I will be tested every time I get on the mats is extremely motivating and inspiring. Resuming my quest to get my black belt is exciting. This time I have a greater appreciation of the goal but I also have more patience ironically. At 45 years old, I should be more impatient about getting my black belt but I have more trust in the process. I’m excited to spend the next 5 to 10 years chasing that blackbelt.

Back On The Mats

Back when I was in Law School in Boston, I was woefully out of shape. I started going to the gym every day with some buddies and it felt great. After a while I started getting bored and was thinking that I should try to do some martial arts. My friend and I were walking around a video rental place and he comes over with this video and says, “Watch this guy. This is what you want to do.” That video was the first UFC and that guy was Royce Gracie. That changed my life. The year was 1996.

After I finished law school in 1997, I moved back to New York City to take the bar and begin working at a small record label, TVT Records, and start training at the Renzo Gracie Academy. Back then it was the Gracie/Kukuk Academy and there I got to roll with Renzo, Craig, Matt & Nick Serra, Rodrigo Gracie, Ricardo and Flavio Almeida, John Danaher, Gene Dunn and many, many other people that went on to get black belts, fight professionally and open their own schools.

From 1997 until around 2004 jiu-jitsu dominated my life. I definitely got into other things like yoga and CrossFit during that time, but I always considered myself a jiu-jitsu guy that did other things. I had this belief that I could never open an academy because I’m not Brazilian and my name isn’t “Gracie” and I didn’t really compete that much. However, I really loved teaching. That’s how come I really embraced teaching yoga and then CrossFit because it satisfied my need to be a teacher. I felt there was more opportunity in yoga and CrossFit for me to earn a living than there was in BJJ. Also I found that I was injured a lot from BJJ and yoga and CrossFit were much safer.

I was a blue belt for about 6 years and then I finally received my purple belt. The thing I liked about Renzo’s system was that it was obvious when you were ready for a promotion but he still wouldn’t give it to you until it was a little overdue. I knew many purple belts that were dominant against purple, brown and black belts. I knew many blue belts that would be high level purple belts at other schools. Renzo made people wait. It was such an honor to receive my purple belt from him.

One my deepest regrets is not continuing to train over the last decade. I am so grateful every day that I decided to start training again. I feel reborn.

Back To The Blog

It’s been too long since I blogged. I don’t know if anybody is reading or paying attention to my blog, but I need to write consistently to maintain my sanity. Things that are on my mind lately: kettlebells, nutrition, gymnastics, jiu-jitsu and, as always, CrossFit.

What I find even more important than those topics is the idea of creating a great life, a mindful existence and a learning how to manage my many varying interests as well as teaching my son to have an amazing life. How can I turn all of this into some interesting blog posts? Let’s find out.

Day 30 – What’s A Nice Ball Like You Doing In A Place Like This?

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a big problem. Often associated with urinary and bowel problems but a hypertonic pelvic floor can affect many more things like cystitis or vulvadynia. Chronic shortening of the pelvic floor muscles, either due to Kegel overtraining, poor postural habits or trauma can lead to an increase in pelvic floor tightness.

Massaging the pelvic floor is easy. You take a padded seat and a well-used Yoga Tune Up® ball and sit on it. The ball should rest between the two sitting bones behind the genitals and in front of the anus. Gently move your pelvis through anterior and posterior tilts as well as right and left elevation and depression. The YTU ball should gently roll between between the sitting bones and from front to back. This will feel weird but it’s so necessary for a healthy pelvis.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 30 of 30. What's A Nice Ball Like You Doing In A Place Like This? from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Day 29 – The Neck Spear.

The Bermuda Triangle of the body is that area behind the clavicle and in front of the trapezius. When I apply downward pressure into that gully I want to throw up. The pressure against the scalenes is horrific but extremely necessary. Because my head sits forward of my midline, the weight of my head is amplified and puts a large strain on my neck and upper back muscles and impedes my shoulder mechanics. In addition to trying to improve my posture, I spend a lot of time hunting around for areas of tension and trying to release them. The Neck Spear is my secret weapon.

With a superball taped to the end of a PVC pipe I can get very precise pressure into the scalenes and down onto the first rib. Doing this frees up movement in my neck, shoulder, scapula, clavicle and ribs. It is basically a reset button for my upper extremities. Press down and lightly shrug your shoulders and turn your head from side to side. Beware of too much nerve pressure. Go slowly and cautiously. Spend several minutes exploring the Bermuda Triangle and then retest your shoulder movements. You should have noticeable improvement.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 29 of 30. The Neck Spear. from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Day 28 – Calm Your Pits!

The Subscapularis is a hidden gem of a muscle. It lives in the back of your armpit against the anterior surface of the scapula. Its job is to internally rotate your shoulder but in the process it gets really tight and restricts our movement. By massaging it we reclaim a lot of mobility in the shoulder, however it lives in a dark cave and does not want to be found. In order to get it, we either need a skilled friend or a long stick with a ball taped to the end of it.

Take your wizard staff and trace the rib cage around to the back of the armpit. Let the arm drape towards the floor so you can allow the scapula to slide off the back and expose the anterior surface to the ball. With some gentle internal and external rotation of the shoulder you can locate the subscapularis as it contracts and relaxes against the pressure of the ball. Check in and check out with your overhead position and notice how much new range you have.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 28 of 30. Calm Your Pits! from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Day 27 – The Neck Romancer.

The neck muscles get short and tight from bad posture and staring at our phones all day. Use the Neck Romancer to relieve the sternocleidomastoid (“SCM”) and platysma in the front of the neck. You will feel a few inches taller after doing this and undo some of the damage of text-neck.

Turn your head to the right to make your left SCM protrude. Take a Yoga Tune Up® ball and place it on the left SCM near the sternum. Turn your head to the left and look down to let the SCM go slack. Take the slack out by spinning the YTU ball. Once you pin and spin all the slack out, look up and over your right shoulder. Keep moving the ball up the SCM all the way to the mastoid process behind the ear. Spend a couple of minutes on each side. Enjoy your new posture when you’re done.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 27 of 30. The Neck Romancer. from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Day 26 – The Scap Eraser.

The infraspinatus and teres minor are two of the rotator cuff muscles that attach to the scapula. The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilizing the shoulder. They can get overused and short. Short muscles are weak muscles. We want to massage the rotator cuff muscles regularly to keep them strong and supple.

For this technique you need to find your scapula. Reach across your chest and grab the latissimus dorsi on the opposite side. You should be able to feel the lateral border of the scap. Place a Yoga Tune Up® ball on the back of the lat and slide your shoulder blade on top of the ball. Drop your knees to the same side in order to bias your weight on top of the ball. Once you have the scap on top of the ball breathe and stay still and create some sustained compression. In order to create some movement perform simple movements of the arm to move the scap over the ball. Try abduction and adduction, internal and external rotation, flexion and extension. Spend 3 or 4 minutes on each side. If it’s too intense, try to do the technique standing against the wall or do it in many shorter segments.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 26 of 30. The Scap Eraser. from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.

Day 25 – The Jawbreaker (BIYM)

You ever clench your jaw? Grind your teeth? Lots of people do. Today we are going to massage the masseter muscle of the jaw and the temporalis muscle. Grab your Yoga Tune Up® ball and a yoga block. Rest your head on the block and place the ball next to your jaw right at the temporomandibular joint. Make big movements with your jaw to massage the masseter muscle. Open and close your mouth, then move your mandible side to side and then forward and back. Spend several minutes on each side of the jaw. Next move the ball up to your temple and gently roll out the temporalis muscle that frames your temple. After massaging both sides for several minutes you should feel relaxed and ready for sleep.

The rules for the Ball Fucking Harder Challenge are easy. First, I recommend getting some Yoga Tune Up® balls to roll on. All you have to do is post a pic or video of yourself doing the technique and tag me (@coachpanda). Use the hashtags #ballfuckingharder #30daypandachallenge #supplepandas #pandiculation. The challenge is even better when you share it with friends so tag your friends to play along.

Day 25 of 30. The Jawbreaker (BIYM) from Force Distance Time on Vimeo.