To Those Who Gave All

In honor of those who gave all they had for the rest of us, we’re keeping it brief today. What better way to honor their sacrifice, than by enjoying our freedom of choice, including how we spend the holiday. Whether bar-b-queing with one’s family, rolling at an open mat, or attending a civic celebration, we hope everyone takes a moment to contemplate the magnitude of what the day means, and give thanks.

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln

Attitude of Gratitude

As we head into week #10 of this state wide “stay at home,” many communities are slowly moving into Phase 2. This step in the right direction provides a welcome bit of relief, but we’re still a long way from any sense of normalcy. The indefinite nature of this entire affair only compounds the stress many are feeling in the midst of so many live lost and the horrendous economic impact. It can be difficult to keep a healthy perspective, but it’s times like this when we need to maintain an “attitude of gratitude.”

At the end of every Jiujitsu class, the students and instructors bow, and repeat the school motto, “Força e Honra,” or Strength and Honor. We then shake hands, and thank one another with an “Obrigado/a.” Obrigado is short for the more formal Eu sou obrigado, or “I am obliged.”

While this little ritual is part of the daily routine, with the tendency for participants to simply go through the motions, the hope is that this demonstration of gratitude helps remind us to be thankful for our time on the mat. Obviously we want to thank our teachers and training partners, for without them we wouldn’t be training in jiu-jitsu. We’re also quite fortunate to train in the facilities we have. (Ask Cassio some time about the canvas mats he used to train on in Brazil!)

As a parent, I’m keenly aware of how vital the idea of gratitude is. We are bringing our children up in a time and place of unbelievable wealth and prosperity. Living here in the burbs of NorCal means we have immediate access to food 24 hours a day. Today’s children have television, the internet, smart phones, and swimming pools, while living in houses with running water, flush toilets, and a/c. Needless to say, such a luxurious lifestyle is lost upon someone who knows no different, which makes it easy for people to be unappreciative. Honestly, which one of us doesn’t take these things for granted?

Consider the early immigrants to this country, or to what was at one time simply thirteen colonies. Those people left Europe with nothing, risked a months-long ship ride, starving conditions, exposure to new diseases, knowing there was little to no infrastructure awaiting them. They came with nothing, knowing it was all on them to make a new life for themselves. If they wanted a house, they had to build it. If they wanted to eat, they had to hunt or harvest it. There was no safety net, no agency for them to fall back on. Can you imagine how they would perceive the world we now live in, with the comforts we take for granted?

It seems like forever since we’ve been “on the mat,” and many have expressed the same frustration we’re all feeling, not being able to train. Maintaining an “attitude of gratitude” can help each of us weather this storm.

We look forward to seeing you all back on the mat!

Certainty in Uncertain Times

Unprecedented. Such hyperbole has become common recently; we’ve heard it in the news, read it in headlines and in the weekly updates from various government agencies. As we all do our best to keep abreast of the quickly changing landscape, it is natural to approach the unknown with a particular amount of skepticism, apprehension, or even fear. Our anxiety can get the best of us, and such hyperbolic language only exasperates that tendency.

It’s important to remember that while we may not remember anything quite like this pandemic and the quarantine conditions we find ourselves in, it is far from being unprecedented. Our understanding of infectious disease has come a long way since The Black Death. Not only have we been here before, but just as with all the other diseases we’ve dealt with over the past seven centuries we’ll get through this one too.

In his book Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World-and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, Hans Rosling reminds us that “things can be both bad and better.” Here are a few fun charts to help maintain a little perspective; to remind us of how much we’ve already accomplished. (click on them to link to the interactive original)

Take a deep breath, and remain calm. People have been screaming, “THE END OF TIMES!” since forever. While we may have some work to do, we’ll get through this. Keep moving forward as best as you can. And don’t forget to wash your hands.

What Day is it?

Four weeks into this state mandated Stay-in-Place and many of us find ourselves a bit out of sorts. Without the framework of our regular lives we half-jokingly ask, “what day is it?” In case you’re feeling a bit lost, here’s an update. Last week was spring break for our local school district and Easter weekend. Before that, the Spring Equinox came and went, mostly unnoticed; nonetheless, the days are getting longer, the temperature is warming up, and everything is in bloom.

Spring is a time of renewal, and has been celebrated as such throughout history. Our ancestors rejoiced as they’d survived the harsh realities of yet another winter, recognizing that spring meant the opportunity to plant crops and harvest the food necessary to survive the coming year. Our modern lifestyles have all but removed the arduous difficulties of surviving winter, and thus the shift to spring isn’t nearly as vital to our existence; yet we still find the longer, warmer days lifting our spirits. We still celebrate spring with holidays such as Mayday, Easter, and Passover. We open our windows to air out our homes, we clean our closets, and we tidy up our yards.

Now that many of us find ourselves forced out of our regular routines, we are presented with the perfect opportunity to re-focus our sights. We can be creative in finding new ways to maintain our mental and physical fitness, since we can’t be on the mat, nor in the gym. Do some yoga. Rehab a nagging injury. Dig out some of those books that remain unread, or re-read some of the classics. Start working towards those goals left on the proverbial back-burner.

This idea of spring cleaning extends into our lives well beyond the back-yard or closet. Even within the context of this crazy Covid-19 remain in place, spring and the renewal occurring all around us, are reminders that there’s always another opportunity.

What are your dreams?

What are you waiting for?

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.