Daily blog #22

The most powerful tool

Do you have a goal or ambition? Most of us do yet many of us still make this one mistake. Following a schedule. When I say “schedule” I want you to think about a simple math equation, 7×6 = 42. You know that if you subtract 1 from any of the “7’s” it will become a 6 and your equation will not add up. Seems pretty simple… However, many of us set goals with a clear idea of what it takes to achieve them yet allow ourselves to miss a practice here, miss a workout there, eat junk food here, sleep in there and so on. The problem is that while it is very easy to convince yourself that “one weight lifting session” doesn’t matter, in the course of a year or however long it takes you to reach your goal of being the best player in pickle ball or golf, it all adds up… Or doesn’t I should say.

Kobe Bryant is famous for his strict schedule of 5am workouts and 3x a day sessions, the man’s life was built around being the best scorer in the NBA. It didn’t matter what the situation was, everything on the schedule was getting done. On vacation, on the road, playing in a golf tournament… That just meant working out at ten o clock at night some nights but him and Tim Grover, also trainer to Michael Jordan and Dwayne Wade, were accomplishing everything in that schedule.. If not, he might not have been the 17-time NBA All Star (second highest in the league) or 9-time All Defense selection. If you don’t believe that talent is pure work, that’s a cop out so you don’t have to work as hard. Whether it’s true or not, for the sake of your self respect and your work ethic you must refuse to believe that “talent” is some God-given gift but rather a result of your habits and your discipline.

If these aren’t your habits, don’t expect to flip them around over night, but start. Start by making a checklist of actions that bring you to your goal and those that don’t. You may be shocked at how much of your life takes away from your goals, I was. Then you can start to eliminate the ones that subtract and add the ones that push you to your goal. Over time you will experience such a massive change, the person you looked back on will be unrecognizable. If you’re reading this thinking, I don’t need that, you are either a successful individual who already recognizes this truth or you’ll never reach your goals because you refuse to acknowledge how much of success comes down to plain hard work and consistency. For most of us, this requires us to change ourselves in ways we aren’t ready for. Those who are will make a massive change starting today. Those who aren’t, might need life to beat them up a little bit more but eventually, the pain of change will become greater than staying the same.

Daily blog #20

Longevity in Jiu Jitsu

Are you an avid BJJ practitioner? If you love Jiu Jitsu, you’ve searched endlessly for anything that will keep you in the game longer. The problem is that with all the misinformation out there, you are left with conflicting advice that paralyzes you. Say no more, these 5 guidelines below will help you sort through the never ending stream of information out there. Why am I sharing this? Because I was once like you, confused by the conflicting directions out there that kept me from making a decision that would serve my best interest. Here are the five principles that I subject any new advice to.

  1. You are unique; what works for others may not apply to you, start with the basics and make adjustments to find what works best for you. In the same way you will gravitate to certain techniques because they accommodate your body type in Jiu Jitsu, some suggestions will hurt you more than they will help you. The only way to know, is to take everything with a grain of salt and safely experiment on your own.
  2. Seek the help of professionals. You can get a ton of great information on the web but it can also result in confusion. Speak with an expert on the topic you would like to learn (nutrition or strength) maybe they can point you to a good resource. Even better, get multiple opinions, if you don’t have the contacts, use the web and create conversations with the leading professionals or as close as you can get.
  3. Be careful following the advice of athletes. Not only can they tolerate a tremendous amount of pain but you don’t always know their circumstances, maybe they are using banned substances and you aren’t factoring it into the equation. Try to follow the most evidence based suggestions. If your age is more seasoned 😉 seek the advice of those closer to your age, they are more in touch with how you feel and how your body reacts to things… Unless of course they are using banned substances.
  4. Sleep is the ultimate recovery formula and the evidence on getting the most out of your sleep is not too conflicting. Invest in your body’s most available path to good health. A quick google search should arm you with plenty of information to start making changes today.. Or tonight I should say.
  5. Develop a good hydration and nutrition plan. Not getting enough water or electrolytes can wreak havoc on your system and many foods (processed foods) can cause inflammation in the body, inhibiting your recovery and leading to injury. I don’t recommend vegan or vegetarian diets because I have met far more people with spinach, celery and peanut intolerances than meat intolerances. The key is to find what foods work best for you and your needs and always strive for the highest quality ingredients. A great information source I use and recommend if you have the time is the Precision Nutrition blog. Or go to our nutrition tab on the Team Hargett web page to get personalized coaching and other amazing offers.

Daily blog #19

The body follows the mind

When quarantine many of you likely felt one of these two ways. Glad you used the time to take care of your health and get in great shape or guilty for becoming unhealthier. If you did let your health suffer, don’t feel bad. Our brain makes decisions to help us survive and not just in a physical way, if your health suffered it’s because you didn’t put your energy towards shaping your lifestyle in a healthy way. We all know smart, disciplined people who abuse their bodies and are neither dumb or lazy. Oftentimes they don’t recognize the importance of being robust and energetic especially as you age. Or they don’t know where to start and if there’s one thing the quarantine has taught us is that your health matters, so what are you waiting for?

If your goal is to be healthy it can only be done by having a healthy lifestyle. know that it’s not going to be an overnight change, we’re talking about changing most of your life’s habits. The good news is, you can do it by committing to creating sustainable changes over time. It’s also very simple. Most of us already know how to live a healthy lifestyle but we are confused by all the misinformation out there. For those of you seeking guidance, there’s a way for you to start eating better without starving yourself or any of those short term weight loss plans. Go over to www.teamhargett.com/nutrition to start making lasting changes today.

The next milestone will be to commit to 15-20 mins of exercise every day, not just for the sole purpose of exercise but most importantly the habit of daily activity. By committing to daily activity, even if you just show up and walk around the gym for the first month, you will experience a massive change within a year all from the habit of daily exercise coupled with mostly good food choices. Once you have the habit and are ready for workout ideas, download the Hargett app from “The App Store” to start using a variety of bodyweight workouts from strength to cardio or pilates. You won’t find HIIT or workouts from hell designed to beat you up there because the goal is health and shaping yourself over time. There are no tricks, your body is not going to get up and do this stuff for you. If you commit and stay consistent, you will see why so many healthy people have become addicted to the way they feel, it gets them up in the morning excited to conquer their health and even teach others how to.

Daily blog #18

Give and it shall be given you

Yesterday marks the first day of our reopening in La Quinta since the California shutdown in mid-March, three months ago. As you can imagine, it’s an unbelievable feeling to be back to having students and members going about business as usual in the gym. Jiu Jitsu has always been a big part of our business so on top of being away from the people we love the most, closing our doors raised some serious revenue concerns and stress regarding whether or not we would even survive as a business and reopen. Throughout the shutdown the team did their best to stay engaged with all the students through zoom classes and social media but there’s only so much you can do. All the while, revenue continued to drop while unemployment numbers continued to rise. As a unit we fought valiantly to find new ways to keep the business alive while still trying to provide value to our customers, I can’t thank the team enough for going above and beyond to get us to this point where we have finally re-opened.

Yesterday we had our first kids class which had 18 ecstatic kids show up ready to train followed by 21 in the adult class. To say I was delighted is an understatement. Jiu Jitsu is a contact activity unlike personal training for the most part so it’s understandable some would be hesitant to return if not most. What a surprise to be rewarded with so many happy and smiling faces. As hard as it can be some times, life throws you curveballs and you just have to adapt, plain and simple. We had no idea if our business would make it, if we would have to un-employ the near dozen or so staff who worked for us.. We were forced to put our energy into unknown territory and do everything in our hands to keep our heads above water. I have an immense amount of gratitude for the fact that I know many had it much much worse and we are blessed to come out of this as a stronger, more seasoned crew with a deepened respect for each other. Life can be just plain hard at times but when your mission is to constantly do more for your community, you will be rewarded for it and that feeling alone is like nothing else. No matter what comes your way, I wish you the strength to continue developing yourself and giving to your community because it will give back to you and you will feel blessed, loved and respected in an immeasurable way.

Daily blog #17

Inhale.. Exhale

“Inhale through the mouth… and let go” are words often heard during a guided Wim Hof breathing session. If you haven’t heard of Wim Hof, you’re in for a surprise. Beyond the insane feats and world records is a meditative practice with numerous health benefits that is yours for the taking. If you have never heard of him, the man is truly remarkable and has built a huge following of people from all walks of life who “get high on their own supply”. He offers a simple breathing routine that anyone can do, and if you haven’t focused on your breathing, I recommend it. As the legendary Saulo Ribeiro says “if you don’t breathe, you die”.

You will start by performing 30 deep inhales through the diaphragm and then the chest followed by not an exhale but what he calls letting go. The idea is not to force oxygen out in order to retain more oxygen within the body’s cells. This is performed for 3 rounds with a breath hold after your 30th exhale, it is encouraged you time it. It also is important you follow his disclaimers and expect some light headedness especially the first time. Do not take this lightly warriors, follow the instructions and you will reap the rewards. People go their entire lives without breathing properly which can seriously lower the immune system as well as lead to poor decision making and a host of health related issues. A breathing practice will result in clarity of mind, focus, relaxation along with improving your body’s capacity to store oxygen. You will feel much more focused and sharp at the beginning of your day if you practice this plus, the ability to hold your breath under water longer than all your friends is kind of cool.

From the heart

Every day I write a blog, never planned and never pre-meditated. The day starts at 3:30 AM and once there is a black coffee next to me I crack my laptop and start typing about the first thing that enters my mind. At that hour there isn’t much but I prefer to have a clear mind uninterrupted by what the day brings. For those who don’t know me, my expertise lies in health and Martial Arts so my posts usually revolve around those topics with exceptions as current events pour into my head space. Right now we are experiencing times unlike any other, with COVID-19 followed by riots and most recently the emergence of the 51st state known as CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone).. I’m sure at this point an alien invasion wouldn’t surprise any of us.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give the Jiu Jitsu community a voice that was empathetic to the average Joe or Jane who can find family and purpose through the art and through the Jiu Jitsu community. Little did I know that I would begin to enjoy writing. I realized this through my recent commitment to write a daily blog post for 100 days straight. In case you didn’t notice, I’m not a good writer, I don’t know how to write in a persuasive or compelling fashion. I am however, achieving clarity in my thoughts, the blog serves me as both a compass and a journal. It forces me to organize my thoughts which has led me to the belief that everyone should write a daily blog. There are other reasons to write a blog, be it to entertain, make money, inform others, or spew written diarrhea for some. During perilous times as these, there are also more reasons to stay indoors so if you feel safer doing so, I recommend starting a blog and writing daily, even if you don’t publish the posts. Who knows where it will take you.

It’s worth noting, the perfectionist in you will always be working to stop you from publishing anything but if you don’t start you will never know who is listening to you or benefiting from your perspective. I still think my voice and my laugh sound ridiculous but if my camera guys tell me it’s good (not to sound like a prima donna lol) I have to trust them and let go of my ego. If you are on the fence about starting a blog or vlog, just go for it. My advice, if you care, is to know your “why?” and don’t let your ego run over you. Let yourself be heard and seen while adapting and evolving with the feedback you get without taking things personally. The task of starting a blog can seem daunting and you may not have a clue what you are doing but once you muster the courage to post your first one (I was incredibly nervous to do it) it will get easier and may turn into something you not only enjoy but benefits others.

Daily blog #17

What everyone in Jiu Jitsu is missing…

Ok the title was dramatic.. I agree. But we all hit plateaus in Jiu Jitsu, especially in the beginning stages. It’s common to feel like you aren’t making the progress you should. There will even be times where you feel like you’re getting worse. Encouragement from your coaches or other students can go a long way during this time and prevent you from quitting right before you get over the hump. That’s why it’s so important to choose a good school that is making sure you take the right steps towards improving your Jiu Jitsu, anyone can beat you up but few can actually make you better. And you are there to get better at defending yourself.

Many students really have no idea what it takes to improve and oftentimes neither does the instructor. Sure they may have achieved a high level but they don’t always know how and more importantly how to get YOU there. Jiu Jitsu is an investment and how quickly you improve is up to you, not your instructor. You can learn to survive against most people in three years or a year… Or six months. And what you may not know is it will take more than just showing up to classes, your instructor should at least know that. A lot of research and resources have been invested into how top athletes perform and achieve success so let’s use some of the information to understand the physical component (psychological will have to be another post) of skill development. Below I’ve listed some groundbreaking authors who have shed some light on the subject, I’ll try my best not to bore you.

Malcom Gladwell (Outliers) – In his now world faomous chapter that you’ve likely heard before, “The 10,000 hour rule”, he references a study done by psychologist Anders Ericsson (author of Peak) on the violinists at Berlin’s elite Academy of Music. The violinists were divided into 3 groups: In the first group were the stars with the potential to become world class soloists. In the second were those judged to be merely “good”. The third group were those unlikely to ever play professionally. All the violinists were then asked the same question: over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced? Everyone from all three groups started playing roughly the same age, around five years old. In the first few years everyone practiced roughly the same amount, but at the age of eight the differences showed. The students who would go on to be the best in their class began to practice more than everyone else: six hours a week by age nine, eight hours by age twelve, sixteen hours by age fourteen until by age twenty they were practicing well over thirty hours a week. By age twenty they had also accumulated 10,000 hours of time spent with the sole intent of getting better whereas the two other groups had accumulated 8,000 and 4,000 hours. What you should take from this is not only how many hours the world class students put in but also how they progressed to it, starting roughly at the same level as everyone else. That may be the most key part of it, how they incrementally asked more and more of themselves to hone their skill.

Daniel Coyle (Talent Code) – In the start of his book which dives into why and how world class performers do what they do, he starts with a girl, Clarissa, who accelerated her learning speed by ten times in six minutes in a study conducted by Australian psychologists Gary McPherson and James Renwick. What’s more is she didn’t even notice, her reason for practicing is “because she’s supposed to”. Clarissa is learning a song she’s never played before and what the she demonstrates is no ordinary practice but a highly targeted, error focused practice where in the same lesson she goes from sounding like she’s never touched a clarinet to a musical genius. The best part is she doesn’t know she’s doing it, she’s just trying to get rid of the errors in her solo. We often hear that “the only thing stopping us is ourselves” and such is the case. You’ll see this time and time again with students who go into practice and fail to use the time to improve their weak areas. Clarissa show us when you are devoted to improvement you don’t care how you look or sound, she has a singular focus on what she’s doing wrong and how to fix it. It’s a hard pill for your ego to swallow if you are there to look good but once you do your Jiu Jitsu will begin to take amazing leaps.

Josh Waitzkin (Art of Learning) – Josh is a world champion chess player (the movie The Search for Bobby Fischer is about him) who won a National championship in Martial Arts in China and received a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Marcelo Garcia. He credits his successes to his ability to learn over any physical or psychological skill. In Chapter 3, Josh talks about two types of learning where he references groundbreaking Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s work leading to the discovery of two types of learning. They categorize the two types of learners as “entity theorists” and “incremental theorists”. The former being kids who have been influenced by their parents and teachers to think “I am smart or I am dumb” and attribute their success or failures to an ingrained and unalterable level of ability. Whereas incremental theorists are more prone to describe their successes and failures with “I should have worked harder or I studied very hard for that test”. One of the learners thinks they are a fixed entity and things just are the way they are while the other sees everything as something where the novice can become the master through their persistent effort. This may be the single most important idea for a new student to understand that will ultimately determine whether or not they reach a black belt level. If you view yourself as “just not good at it” versus “not having put enough time into it” the results could not be more different.

If you know someone who is struggling to improve in any area, these three ideas will likely apply to their situation. Skill is skill and we all possess an ability to improve every single day. If we can apply these ideas consistently in any area over a period of time success is not only inevitable but potentially at a level you didn’t think possible.

Daily blog #16

Who is our Jiu Jitsu academy’s biggest competitor?

As a Jiu Jitsu academy owner I’m sometimes asked, “who is your academy’s biggest competitor?” You would probably guess the most successful Martial Arts academy in the area but you would be mistaken. Martial arts has stood the test of time as a way to physically develop oneself through hard training and practicing of values such as discipline, respect and compassion. The end product most often is a confident man or woman with skills to defend themselves or what they love and the values to keep them from abusing their power. A true Martial Artist’s mission should be to spread martial arts as far as possible. What or how other academies are doing is none of your business and there will come moments in time where you a direct a student to another academy so they can get started. We are blessed to have beautiful academy in La Quinta with a fully equipped gym inside of it so our rates are not the cheapest. On occasion, during the student’s free introductory lesson I have directed them to a school with cheaper rates just so they can begin their Martial Arts journey.

Every school has the same competitor which is organized sports. People pay big money for travel teams, coaching, athletic performance training and anything that might give their kid an edge in sports. The failure is that sports can be a great way to develop a child physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually but due to the desire to win and play professional sports, it is hardly and rarely used as a vehicle for self development. If parents understood the investment of selecting a Martial Art, not a BS one, and viewing it as an education program you would see much different attitudes and actions today among our society. At a Jiu Jitsu school you will learn to become very effective at self defense without having to throw a strike which can help you avoid legal difficulties or getting expelled. More confident kids are less likely to be bullied and also tend to get into less trouble. When school-shopping, make sure the instructor understands why you’re there and don’t be afraid to communicate with them and switch schools if you have to. When you find a good program, it will be one of the greatest blessings you’ve ever had. You will notice improved listening, confidence, posture and social skills that will set your child up for success and improve your relationship. You will worry less, knowing that your child is capable of making good decisions and can protect themselves.

Daily blog #15

Fridays are for fighting, family & food

TGIF! Or so they say… The only day of the week accompanied by a natural feeling of excitement. Weekend getaways, the end of a work or school week, seeing friends or maybe it’s the only time you have to exercise or spend time with your family.. For many who don’t share an activity with their family it can get dull or lonely. I mean, going to parties has it’s fun but the same scene every weekend as you get fatter, softer and slower doesn’t sit right with everyone. It’s in our nature to celebrate victory but there is nothing like when it follows a great accomplishment. Fighting followed by great food can be a hell of a time. This afternoon at www.laquintajiujitsu.com we have a “violent hugging” session planned, followed by some delicious Sicilian style pizzas made fresh by my brother from another mother Ulysses. If you are in the Coachella Valley definitely check him out for the best pizza delivery. We’ll spend our time watching my brother Victor Hugo, the best Jiu Jitsu fighter in the world, go to war in the Fight2WinBJJ event. There isn’t much to hard work, good food and great company but it’s something most of us can appreciate. Enjoy your weekend which I hope is full of wonderful memories shared with family and friends, if you shared Jiu Jitsu, even better.

Daily blog #14

Where is Wald.. Covid?

We are but four days away from our official reopen date and with the arrival of summer, is anyone wondering what the corona virus went? Former WHO (World Health Organization) director Karol Sikora was quoted in an interview saying “COVD-19 will likely run its course” before a vaccine is ever produced, that the virus is likely petering out… Are people ruling out that that this mass hysteria was brought about by political gain? I have reason to believe so. It is not my intention to politicize my blog but as a Jiu Jitsu academy owner it is my duty to encourage students to practice Jiu Jitsu. “Emperor Newsome” was one of the first governors to initiate a shutdown in California in order to save lives. Somehow through all of this it was perfectly acceptable to be in a crowded store for any period of time, yet voting booths were not allowed. Beaches and parks were also closed. I find it laughable to see the long overdue reopening of gyms with incredibly vague guidelines and procedures. Strange lack of effort for someone who declared that 22 millions Americans were going to be infected.

My beef with the governors lies in the fact that Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts as a whole have changed countless lives and groomed many great men and women who have gone on to contribute to society and the community around them. This is a result of the discipline, respect for others and plain hard work that attracts many great leaders together. My duty as a sensei is to convince the usually intimidated students of all ages, colors, sizes and genders why they will benefit from Jiu Jitsu. This can be hard enough on it’s own as Jiu Jitsu is oftentimes associated with cagefighting or crude forms of self defense rather than the inner and outer beauty that lifelong practitioners know. It is both sad and infuriating to see the amount of people who are low risk yet are fearful of this virus, stopping them from a life of good health shared with amazing people. On a positive note, we will be starting our full class schedule on Monday and I could not be more thrilled to be able to share the mats with our students again who I’m sure are feeling the same way.