Ready, Fire, Aim!

We find ourselves in unique circumstances. It appears we will be under the “remain in place” directive through April, and possibly even May, however, as martial artists, we won’t allow this to define us, but rather we will use it as an opportunity for growth. As the saying goes, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In our case, we’re focused on developing a strong online curriculum; one that will help us all navigate these uncertain times and continue our pursuit of excellence in the art of Brazilian Jiujitsu.

This week we’re rolling out our Virtual Jiujitsu program.

We may not be able to replicate the training of a regular class, but we can help fill in the void when being on the mat isn’t an option. The program consists of three parts: video tutorials, online coursework (children’s programs), and live video conferences.

  1. The primary component is a series of online videos you can access at your convenience. They will cover topics such as fundamental movements, basic techniques, strategy, and conditioning. The material presented will take into account such impediments as the absence of proper equipment (mats), partners, and/or space. This one was made with the children’s programs in mind, but the workout at the end could benefit everybody.
  2. We’ve also put together some learning materials for both the Little Samurai and Junior Jujiteiros on Google Classroom. There will be a variety of age-appropriate activities that cover topics like martial art history, Jiujitsu terminology, as well as our Five-Pillars of Success™ Life Skills Program.
  3. Additionally, we’re looking to set up some live interactions on Zoom, a video-conferencing platform you may be familiar with. We’re still working out the details for the adult classes. The Children’s programs are going to start with one live workout a week in conjunction with the videos, and also have the opportunity to “Meet by the Water Cooler.” This will be a chance for them to simply socialize with their peers; we thought it would be a fun, beneficial outlet since we’re all isolated at home. It will be a guided format, with each week being a different set topic, for example, “introduce us to your pet,” or “tell us about your favorite sport?”

Finally, a number of families have reached out to us asking for their accounts to remain active through-out this closure and we’re eternally grateful for such graciousness during this time of uncertainty. This program is for you! All of our active members will have access to this program. We will send you the information to access the online videos and Google Classroom, and keep you apprised of upcoming live events.

We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and continued support as we work through this transition. Stay healthy, stay safe, and stay tuned!

Virtual Jiujitsu

With an indefinite end-date on the Placer County directive to “stay in place,” we find ourselves in a quandry. We want to get together with our teammates, learn some new moves, and roll, but in the name of public safety, we are stuck at home honoring our civic duty for an unknown period of time.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

-Anon

The bottom line is, we can’t replicate the efficacy of direct instruction, nor the feedback of drilling with a partner, nor the intensity of rolling. However, we can keep our mind “in the game,” work on our fundamental movement, and maintain our fitness.

We’re taking this opportunity to put together a video library to help everyone continue their pursuit of excellence in BJJ. Whether you’re a student looking for some more drills, or a parent in need of something for their child to do, these short videos will provide you with the next best thing to an actual class: Virtual Jiujitsu!

Stay tuned….

Covid-19 School Closure

Dear WFJJ Family and Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the temporary closure of Werneck Family Jiujitsu in Roseville. In response to the current status of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be closed from Monday, March 16th through Tuesday, March 31st.

We have spent many hours over the past few weeks discussing the best course of action to take for the well-being of our families, members, friends, and the community at large. We have stayed up-to-date on the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, as well as those from Placer county and the local school district.

Just as other organizations like Disneyland, the National Basketball Association, and the University of California are taking the recommended precautions, our local school district and all schools in Placer county have taken the step of closing through mid-April. We believe it is our civic responsibility to follow the same proactive course of action. If we can slow the Coronavirus’ spread through such “social distancing,” it greatly increases the odds our medical establishment will be able to adequately care for those who fall seriously ill.

We do not take this decision lightly. Cassio and I are passionate about providing the highest level of instruction and service, and personally dread the idea of not being on the mat with all of our friends and students. Naturally, we are apprehensive about the economic impact these policies will have, but most importantly we are concerned about the well-being of our community. We hope our actions help facilitate a quick return to normalcy for all the residents of California.

As things unfold here in Roseville, we will stay up-to-date with developments, and assess future actions as needed. We will keep you updated. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email us at administration@werneckfamilyjiujitsu.com, or call me at (916) 768-7461.

Stay healthy and happy.

Força E Honra,

Cassio Werneck and Darren Figgins

COVID-19

We know that these are unsettling times and we want to assure you that Werneck Family Jiujitsu is committed to the health and well-being of our community. We have been very closely monitoring the evolving situation with the Corona virus (COVID-19) and are following the recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the California Department of Public Health to ensure the safety of our students, teachers, and staff.

Given the nature of our sport, we have always done all we can to make our studio as safe & hygienic as possible. We clean and disinfect the mat (and restroom) daily and will continue to do so. In response to the current state of affairs, we have increased our regular disinfecting of all high traffic surfaces (i.e. benches, water cooler, doors, shelves, and flooring) from biweekly to daily. Alcohol-based sanitizer is available at the front desk.

We would like to reiterate some of our related school policies:

  1. Don’t train while sick. If you or your child isn’t feeling well, stay home until fully recovered.
  2. Maintain good hygiene. We would remind our students that regularly washing one’s hands & face with warm water and soap (at least 20 seconds) before and after class should be common practice.
  3. Clean your uniform and gear after EVERY use. This isn’t just about b.o. – a dirty uniform can be very unhealthy for both you and your teammates.

At this time we are maintaining our regular schedule. We are monitoring state and federal recommendations daily, as well as the Roseville City School District policies, and will make adjustments should new developments and recommendations arise. We will notify all students via email should circumstances change.

Let’s all work together to do all we can to ensure everyone’s safety and health while in the studio.


image: courtesy of University of Tampa website.

F.E.A.R. Redux

“The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

-President Franklin D. Roosevelt

The availability heuristic is the tendency to judge the frequency, or probability, of something based on how easily you can bring it to mind. This was a vital tool for our great-great-great-great (you get the idea) ancestors. Upon seeing their buddy get mauled by a saber-tooth tiger, that threat became paramount: “saber-tooth tiger – BAD.” In our modern society, we don’t have to worry too much about being mauled by a tiger. In fact, when one looks at the actual statistics, we find that for the past 25 years our lives have continually gotten safer. Violent crime in the U.S. has been on an overall decline since their peak in the early ’90’s (and that includes the slight uptick for the past two years).

vcrimechart

Traffic safety has also been steadily improving. This is good news, as automobiles are one of the top causes of accidental death in the U.S. (37,757 in 2015, or 11.7 per 100,000)

traffic deaths graph
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

So why is it that a majority of Americans feel less safe than ever, when the reality is the opposite? In large part, we can thank our availability heuristic. Every time we see a heinous crime on television or the internet, that visceral image becomes dominant in our mind. A singular event portrayed over and over again becomes larger than life. We give it undue influence on our assessment of it’s frequency, and how likely it is to happen again. In this manner, our fear grows beyond reason, as a False Expectation Appearing Real.

What can we do to remain calm in the face of the proverbial storm? How can we keep our head, and make sound decisions for our future, without allowing our emotions, our fear, to cloud our judgement? The first step is in acknowledging that such biases as our availability heuristic have an impact on our perspective. Second, when it comes to risk assessment, people really should study actual statistics, which can help clear up misconceptions. Here are a few resources:

Third, in my opinion, is to stop watching the news. These organizations do a poor job of presenting material in a manner that isn’t intentionally inflammatory, over-sensationalized, and down-right misleading. They want you ticked off, and/or scared. It sells.

Turn off the television, get on the mat and train.

image credit: Alexander Sidorov

Where Are You Going?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

The perennial question continues to be passed down through the generations. (Perhaps I’ll figure it out when I grow up.) Joking aside, each of us should take the time to ask ourselves this legitimate, and vital, query. The first step in getting anywhere is deciding where we’re headed.

Begin with the end in mind.

In his seminal work, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey asks us to consider our own funeral. If there were to be four speakers from different spheres of your life, i.e. family, friends, professional, and community, what would you like them to say about you?

“Now think deeply. What would you like each of these speakers to say about you and your life? What kind of husband, wife, father or mother would you like their words to reflect? What kind of son or daughter or cousin? What kind of friend? What kind of working associate?

What Character would you like them to have seen in you? What contributions, what achievements would you want them to remember? Look carefully at the people around you. What difference would you like to have made in their lives?”

– Stephen R. Covey, (1989)

This exercise can help us recognize the root of our character, and what is truly important to us. Ultimately, this is our life’s work – our destination. All of our other goals, whether related to family, fame, or fortune, should align with this conceptualization of who we want to be.

We can apply this to our BJJ training as well. The body of knowledge within the grappling arts is dauntingly broad, and can leave one feeling lost or inadequate to the task. However, taking the time to apply the same questions that Covey suggests to our life on the mat can help give us direction in how to proceed in our training. What kind of student/training partner/teacher/competitor would you like people to remember you as?

Where are you going?

Success becomes a matter of making a good plan and putting in the work necessary to get where we’re headed. We just have to decide where it is we wish to go. We must begin with the end in mind.

“Life is so strange, when you don’t know your destination.”

Missing Persons, 1982.

See you on the mat.


Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Own It

Training in Brazilian Jiujitsu (BJJ) can be a life-altering experience. It’s a great workout in which we develop some powerful skills, for both self-defense and sport. It’s mentally stimulating to learn the moves and counter-moves, while developing one’s own “game,” or style. The training develops an intense esprit de corps, as teammates push one another to be their best. It is a powerful platform, providing us the opportunity to learn/re-learn the lessons that make us better at life – as sons & daughters, mothers & fathers, students, workers, and as citizens.

Being Proactive rather than reactive is one such lesson; Proactivity is vital for success on the mat, and in life.

Stephen Covey says being proactive means that as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives.” It requires taking the initiative to decide for ourselves how we will respond to the world around us and recognize that, ultimately, it is these choices which matter most. Furthermore, we must distinguish between things we have no influence over, and the things we do. Instead of reacting to events/people outside this “circle of influence,” we should focus on what we are doing about the things within. In this manner, we can actually expand our influence over time, and become more effective in the process. (Covey, 1989)

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

-Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr

Listen to children, who are experts at externalizing when something bad happens. If a child knocks a glass off the table, they say, “it broke.” After hurting another, a child claims, “they made me mad,” but when the roles are reversed then, “they hit me.” In school it’s “I got an A,” while “the teacher gave me an F.” Too often, grown adults persist in this mindset; these poor souls blame their ancestors (genetics), their parents (psychology), or their circumstances (environment) for everything. This immature way of seeing the world denies our individual agency, making us helpless victims to external things deemed beyond our control.

“When you point your finger ’cause your plans fell through, you’ve got three more fingers pointing back at you.”

-Dire Straits, 1980

BJJ hammers the importance of proactivity home in the most matter-of-fact manner. We all start our training at different times in our lives, and come to the table with varied backgrounds, fitness levels, and limitations. We “roll” with training partners who have more knowledge & skill, who are bigger, faster, stronger, and/or <insert trait of your choice>. When you’re in the heat of the battle, none of that matters. You just have to figure out what you’re going to do about it. You have to try and solve the puzzle.

It is vital that we recognize and accept our individual agency. We can’t do anything about the past, and there are many things that affect our world which we have no control over, but we always have the ability to choose how we respond. We can always decide what we are going to do about it.

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

-George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession

See you on the mat.


Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. Simon and Schuster, 1989.

It’s 2020!

With the New Year, there comes a sense of a new beginning; a clean page on which to write the story we want. People start out with the best of intentions, making a list of their New Year’s Resolutions, and taking the first steps in realizing their aspirations. Yet, while many aspire to achieve their goals, many will quit, and find themselves making the same goals the following year. This is so common that the entire concept has become a well-known punch-line.

One of the reasons some are successful while others aren’t lies in the difference between being interested, as opposed to being committed, to doing something.

Those who are simply interested in doing something plan on getting to it when it’s convenient. Whatever the goal, whether losing weight, finding a better job, or  finishing a college degree, the interested plan on doing it when they find the time, when everything lines up, or when they “feel like it.” So people interested in getting fit for the new year hit the gym, diligently putting in their time, for a few weeks. Soon, they start finding excuses as to why they can’t make it in as often. It becomes more and more inconvenient, until soon they’re not going at all.

The committed, on the other hand, do whatever they need to do in order to accomplish their goals. They learn everything they can about the pursuit, create a plan, and prioritize their time in order to assure they dedicate enough to the effort. They don’t allow anything to stand in their way. The committed don’t wait until they find the time, they make it. They don’t wait for everything to line up, they line everything up. They don’t wait until “they feel like it.” The committed follow through on the plan knowing the long-term goal will far outweigh any short-term feeling that may come and go along the way.

What were you interested in accomplishing last year, but never got around to?

Are you committed yet?

Attitude of Gratitude

This time of year, we find ourselves gearing up for the upcoming holiday season. Thanksgiving is just days away, and the kids are already getting a bit giddy with excitement. In the spirit of the season, we’re focusing on having what Zig Ziglar termed an “attitude of gratitude.” We’re considering the full extent of our good fortune, living as we do here in the burbs of NorCal in the 21st Century. (the image above is a list the Little Samurai made in class of all the things they’re thankful for!)

We humans are problem-solvers. This is advantageous for obvious reasons, and the evidence of our success is all around us. World-wide, child mortality rates continue to drop, while we are also living longer, healthier lives. Over the last century, the number of people living in extreme poverty has halved, and now the majority of the world lives in the middle class. (Rosling, 2018) While we’re surrounded by the fruits of our labors, we still see the many problems that need to be fixed, and the tendency to focus on them often leads us to believe things are worse than they are. Thus, it’s healthy to remind ourselves from time to time of all that we have to be thankful for.

On a personal note, we are thankful for the opportunity to participate in this Brazilian Jiujitsu experience. We are grateful to be living in a time and place where it’s possible for a person to provide for their family by sharing their passion for the sport of Jiujitsu. We are grateful for the wonderful families who have become a part of our extended BJJ family, and for the amazing friendships we’ve developed along the way. We are thankful for all of our training partners who help push us on the mat, fine-tuning our BJJ game, and becoming better versions of ourselves. We appreciate each and every one of you who chooses to join us on this adventure, and we will continue to do everything we can to give back to the community in kind.

Obrigado. Thank you for becoming a part of our family, and for your continued support.

See you on the mat.

Rosling, H. (2018). Factufulness: Ten reasons We’re Wrong About the World – and Why Things are better Than You ThinkNew York, NY: Flatiron Books.

Helicopters and Snowplows

I’m often struck by the stark differences between life here in the burbs of NorCal and my childhood back in Montana. We live in a day and age in which we’re able to invest so much into raising our children. We are fortunate to get to participate so much in our children’s lives – to volunteer in the classroom, to watch them play sports, or to simply walk them home from school. I can’t help but ponder, however, if too much parenting may be detrimental to our children’s development.

I have vivid memories of biking to school with my friend, Steve. As fifth/sixth graders, we covered the entire two miles completely unsupervised. On summer break, my siblings and I left the house after breakfast with the admonishment, “be home before dark,” and spent our days out and about with friends, riding bikes & horses, shooting tin cans with b.b. guns, exploring “the woods,” or abandoned lumber mill, with nary a parent in sight. We crashed our bikes, fell off the horse, and got into arguments & fights. Occasionally, we came home with cuts, scrapes, bumps & bruises, and hurt feelings.

Growing up this way taught us to be independent, to think for ourselves, and to be proactive. We learned that we weren’t immortal, but that our wounds would heal. We also learned that our feelings were temporary. We could stomp off in anger, but be back playing the next day. We learned how to settle disagreements without a referee, to compromise, to apologize, and how to forgive – not because we were told to, but as a matter of course.

Fast forward to the here and now. Very rarely do I see children walking or bike riding, to/from school, or playing at the park unsupervised. At the park, the parents are ever-vigilant. They warn their children of imminent danger with a “be careful,” when the child tries to climb the rubberized, sanitized, age-appropriate play structure, and intercede like a referee anytime there is an interaction with another that isn’t completely joyous and cooperative. Indeed, it is becoming so rare for children to be unsupervised, that people are calling the police, and families are being reported to C.P.S., simply because their children went to the neighborhood park alone!

As parents and teachers, we play a vital part in our children’s development, however the largest part of learning comes not from being told or shown, but from the experience of doing. We can give our children information, tell them right from wrong, and explain cause and effect. We can teach by the example we set, and we can offer counsel when needed. We must also allow them the opportunity to do things on their own up to, and including, failing. We must restrict our natural desire to protect our children to when it is absolutely necessary. They need to fall down, make mistakes, feel the sting of failure, and savor the pride in getting it right.

See you on the mat.