It must be the Olympics

I remember in 2010 when we were all up in arms because the IJF was going to limit us to only their approved gi brands. Not those brands that which comply to IJF standards, like six brands with contracts with the IJF which would be the only allowed brands at IJF competition. I don’t remember what became of it, but as I look on at the Olympics this year, all I can think of is how the greatest level of competition in most sports is tainted by consumerism.

Visa, and only Visa, will be accepted. Only Coca-Cola products will be sold. You want some food? McDonald’s or Subway? Yeah, I saw Apollo Ohno advertising it, it must be good, after all he won 8 Olympic medals (in speed skating).

An outstanding runner cannot be the equal of an average wrestler. – Socrates

My super-douchey point is this – you’re not going to be a world class athlete by hoping McDonald’s will provide you enough 400 calorie meal options. If you eat two sandwiches at each meal and each is 395 calories, you’re still taking in 2370 Calories per day. The last time I checked that was a lot for a desk-jockey with diabetes. It’s okay though, right, I mean the intent is clearly for you to have one sandwich, a salad, and a water. I mean, “What’s McDonald’s without a Coke?” Yes, that’s a direct quote from a commercial earlier this year. Way to kill us not-so-slowly.

So stand proud this year as you’re force-fed forced-fed beef, after all, the American dream has been realized. With one third of the country obese, another third overweight, and the last third paying for the other 66%’s rising health care costs we absolutely need McDonald’s to be advertising non-stop right next to some of the most fit people on the planet. No other time of the year should you see the parallels so vividly – we are a modern Rome.

Also, I’m pretty against some of the bad calls the refs have made in judo this year.

How to Own a Gi

So, you bought a gi. You think you can just wear, use, wash, repeat like it’s a t-shirt? Oh no my friend, a gi is an investment, and I’m about to lay down everything I know about protecting that investment. There are a few assumptions here. First, every manufacturer is different. Some pre-wash the gi better than others. Some have explicit care instructions because they have a patterned silk lining because you need to look like a complete fucking asshat gangster when you roll.

  1. Step 1 is always to talk to the manufacturer to get the information about the care of the gi because of the variations in treatment, dye, and material. I don’t care where you bought it, get your info from the source.
  2. When I first got a gi I was told that traditionally you should let it soak in rain water for two full days before you wash it. I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I will say that based on my personal experimentation and experience letting any gi soak in cold water for a day or so is a great step when you first get it. I’ve had gi’s where some dye (or other chemicals?) comes out this way. I use a bathtub. It’s not pure rainwater, but the tap water where I’m from is super clean. As the story goes, skipping this step means the fabric will soak up all of the oil and gunk on your skin which isn’t good for the material or the dye.
  3. Color lock it. The next step after letting it soak is going to be to wash it, but we’re also going to add some vinegar to the mix. You don’t need a lot. I used a half-cup to wash two new gi’s the last time I did it. Again, Fushida said it wasn’t necessary, but the difference has been inarguable. If the gi is just white (no dye, patches, etc.) you can skip this, but almost no BJJ gi meets those qualifications. You can also skip it if you’re trying to get the color to fade faster, but then why did you buy a colored gi?
    AIR DRY!
  4. Try it on, then wash it again. This time you’re going to be playing with the temperature and potentially the dryer to shrink the gi to your frame. How much a gi will shrink varies wildly by manufacturer from like 3 inches on each sleeve (I’m looking at you HSU…) to virtually none (Killer Bee). Since you already have this information from the manufacturer follow their instructions so you don’t end up with a gi that’s too small. Just remember, too big can be fixed later, too small is permanent.
  5. Roll. You now have a gi that fits, won’t fade (as fast), and is clean. Go train some, you’ve earned it.
  6. Wash your gi. You know that guy who washes his gi once a week and smells like crotch all the time? Don’t be that guy – hang your gi out between practice and washing it to get some of that stank out, and then wash it inside out when you get the chance. If at all possible, turn it inside out and give it a rinse right after class then toss it in the washer right away. Washing it inside out helps prevent the really bad yellow stains you’ll get on a white gi from being a sweaty guy. To prevent shriking (since you already did that), you can keep washing the gi on cold and air drying it.

So, short synopsis – soak, color-lock, shrink, wear, wash, wear, wash, wear, wash… Just don’t be that guy who doesn’t wash between wears.

Pinched Nerve

I started up last week and then just as abruptly had to take a break – I pinched a nerve in my neck. So tonight will be my return yet again.

I’ve also started on building my own mat. I have the foam from Wisconsin Foam Products Inc. for the sprung floor in my basement already, this weekend I’ll be going to get the 2×6’s, OSB, adhesive, and hardware for the actual floor, and I’ve already ordered a 12’x12′ mat from Swain/Dollamur. The highlights: the foam isn’t what I was expecting, all of the OSB needs to be cut (which means by me), and dealing with Swain/Dollamur via phone is a nightmare.

Simple tips to make your floor-building process more simple if you chose to do it:

  1. If you’re going to go through Swain/Dollamur and you’re not a school, just order online. Calling isn’t worth it. If you are a school and you have to call to get custom sizing, know exactly what you want already. They’re good about answering sizing questions, but you’ll have to know what you’re looking for. On the up/down side they don’t try to up-sell at all so you won’t know about that sealing kit for the more expensive tape.
  2. Some places will give you free cuts if you’re buying OSB/plywood from them. If the cut isn’t up to your standards you still bought the wood. Just do it yourself.
  3. You might be tempted to build your mats all the way out to the wall, especially if your room is perfectly truncated to exact feet. Consider leaving room for some wall mats to go in in the future.
  4. Wisconsin Foam has two policies which surprised me initially – there’s a $100 minimum and they cut all orders +/- 10%. I was going to order 150 blocks, I have 176. They were a great company to work with, and I’m super glad I have the extra foam just in case. On a more specific note, if you’re in Madison you can avoid shipping costs by just driving to pick it up, it’s on the East Side.

So, all in all, I have no idea if/when my Swain/Dollamur mats/tape/sealing kit will be here, but whenever they arrive, I’ll be ready with a sprung floor.

Gi Review: Fushida TOURNAMENT

Fushida and I go way back – my first order with them was June of 2009 and I’ve been wearing this same gi since. As an added piece of nostalgia – I still wear that green belt to judo even though I ordered it for jujitsu back then. I’ve seen models come and go including multiple versions of the judo gi’s I know and love. The TOURNAMENT remains the tried-and-true.

Fushida TOURNAMENT
Weave: 1.5
Price: $85.00CAD +
Cut: European Judo
Quality: 4.5/5
Comfort: 4/5

Continue reading

Website Review: GiFreak

GiFreak (Tangled Triangle LLC) is a site that lets you search models of gis, reviews of them, and provides a bit of news in the community via a blog.

Design: 2/5
Function: 3/5
Impression: A great idea that’s yet in its infancy. There’s definitely a lot of room to grow in terms of the design, but the basis is awesome. I’d really like to see this set of tools get off the ground. If they can get all 150+ manufacturers to fill in their information and allow for end-user reviews it will truly become one of those sites that everyone in the grappling community knows and uses.

Full review after the cut. Continue reading

Website Reviews: Intro

I’m going to be putting reviews up on here. I’ll be starting with website reviews, but I’ll eventually start branching in gear, videos, books, and even schools. I got a comment on the blog to take a gander at GiFreak and if I felt so inclined, to write up a post about it. Well, I’m working on that, but to start I really felt I needed a meta-post as fair warning about me – I’m critical of just about everything. I’ll be using an out of 5 scale on a bunch of different things depending on what the site provides.

The fact that sites like GiFreak are popping up really speaks to the degree of growth that BJJ has experienced, especially as of late. I think the fact that I got a comment on my blog speaks even more to the fact that anyone with a few years of experience and enough cauliflower can look reputable. I guess both of those facts scare me a bit.

Design

I’ve been spoiled with awesome graphic designs. Twitter brought my attention to M3MMA and TriCoasta a couple years back now, and to be honest, they’ve both really ruined by perceptions that all MMA/BJJ sights had to look like complete crap. Then the Third Heaven and ISI sites really stepped up on appearance and functional form. I mean, let’s be honest, for an association started by two black belts in Wisconsin, that ISI site is very well done. So that’s the standard I’m going to hold web sites to for appearance. If your sight isn’t at least as visually appealing as the single-page shell Jesse put up when M3MMA went down,  you’re going to get a 3 or lower.

Function

A website exists to do something. Generally we use them to provide information, but they also act as store fronts, media players, arenas for discussion, or some other service. The number one thing every site should be ranked on is how well it does what it’s supposed to. There’s not really any compromise on that.

Return to Greatness

Last night was the first night back to judo. It was as excellent as I had hoped. I played pretty bad judo right out of the gate – shooting singles and doubles. Our throw of the day for formal practice was kata guruma (windmill, fireman’s carry). I got to play with my sweet new means of grip breaking. Because it relies on the pistol grip it’s a big no-no in judo, but if I can get used to grabbing the wrist (as I would for no-gi) I can make it legal. It works like a charm.

The wrestling needs work. I’m still in guard too much during ne waza to be super happy, but I’m getting my arm bars. I also ended up completely unconsciously with two leg locks. I didn’t finish them, but for some reason when in a bind I’m going to toe holds and heel hooks. Grappling anyone?