Don’t Quit!

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

-Vince Lombardi

We are emotional beings. Indeed, we hold our emotions in such high regard that we’re advised to “follow our heart,” and to “pursue our passion.” While being happy, getting angry, and feeling sad are all part of a healthy human experience, it’s beneficial to remember their ephemeral nature; our feelings come and go, being strong one day, and diminished the next. Allowing these powerful, ever-changing forces to direct our daily actions can be a recipe for disaster, if we allow them to distract us from our chosen course.

Any great accomplishment in life requires a lot of time and effort. Sports provide the perfect example. To become a world-champion takes years of hard work, day-in, day-out, practicing the same moves again, and again, for hours every day. Such intense training means there will be injuries and set-backs. It also requires sacrificing time with family and friends. Such redundancy, difficulty, and sacrifice means that even the most dedicated athlete will experience days or even weeks when they just don’t feel like it. Yet, the victorious find a way to push through these periods.

“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

-Vince Lombardi

This past weekend, Simone Biles won her sixth record-tying, all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. Not only did she win in resounding fashion, but she nailed two, never-before moves. She did a double-double (two flips & two twists) dismount off of the beam, and she pulled off a triple-double on her floor routine – both firsts for women’s gymnastics! Many are calling her the greatest of all time.

In the 2016 Olympics Ms. Biles and her fellow teammates Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian, and Aly Raisman made up the Final Five. This powerhouse of a team dominated the competition bringing home the Gold in the team event, while also medaling in each and every individual event as well. Their memoirs are the stuff of legend; each of them experienced difficulty, and dealt with the trials & tribulations so common in great endeavors, yet persevered to succeed.

The Final Five, Agência Brasil Fotografias [CC BY 2.0]

Gabby Douglas, for example, wanted to quit leading up to the 2012 London Games. She wrote to her mother,

“Gymnastics is not my passion anymore. I want to get famous off of running track, or I want to try dancing, or become a singer. I can get a job at Chick-Fil-A in Virgiia Beach and live off the 14 grand I just won at world Championships. I just want to be a normal teenage kid.”

– Gabby Douglas, Grace, Gold, and Glory: My Leap of Faith

Gabby, however, went on to compete in those Olympic Games. She and her teammates won Gold in the team event. She became the first woman of color to win the individual all-around, and the first american gymnast to win both the team event and individual in the same Olympics!

It’s o.k. to feel like quitting – just don’t quit!

It is normal to have moments of doubt, to feel like quitting – especially when the endeavor is a long, arduous one. Whether it’s gymnastics, working an a college degree, a job, or training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the key is recognizing this feeling for what it is, then re-focus on one’s goals, and stay the course! Greatness could be just around the corner.

See you on the mat.

Learn more about these amazing athletes in their own words….

Biles, Simone. Courage to soar: a body in motion, a life in balance. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2016.

Douglas, Gabby. Grace, Gold, and Glory: my leap of faith. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2012.

Hernandez, Laurie. I Got This: to gold and beyond. New York, NY: Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2017.

Raisman, Aly. Fierce: how competing for myself changed everything. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2017.

Why Teach Martial Arts?

A couple decades back, one of my mentors in the martial arts posited that people teach martial arts for one of three basic reasons: themselves, the art, or the students. He then asked, “which one do you believe would make the best teacher?” The ensuing conversation really became a healthy inventory of all the things that make for a good, or a poor, martial art instructor.

For people who’ve spent a large part of their lives in, for lack of a better term, more traditional martial arts, we’ve all seen the instructor who’s there for themselves. Often they’ve just received their rank as an instructor, and they love the power that comes with the position. While their boot-camp drill sergeant style of barking orders makes for an orderly and often productive class – as judged from the amount of work and sweat produced – the students can be left wondering whether the instructor was really interested in helping, or just in making sure everybody knew who was in charge.

Then there’s the folks who love their art. They’re usually very concerned with tradition, and passing on the art exactly as it was passed on to them. They tend to have a “take it or leave it” attitude when they teach. “This is how it’s been done for the past 10,000 years. This is how my instructor taught me, how their instructor taught them, and so on, and so that’s how I’m teaching you.”

Thirdly, there are those who teach for the students. They recognize the benefits of the training, and want to do whatever they can to pass the knowledge on to their students. They develop their ability to communicate to a broader range of individuals and are willing to refine their teaching techniques in order to facilitate more students’ acquisition of the art.

Upon reflection, and with the benefit of 20+ years more of living, I realize the question is rhetorical in nature. It is fallacious to pose those three reasons as being independent or separate. The fact is every great martial art instructor has a healthy balance of all three.

Everyone who teaches at Cassio Werneck’s schools loves Brazilian Jiujitsu. In fact, many of us have backgrounds in other arts, yet here we are, pursuing the Brazilian Jiujitsu “lifestyle.” We are drawn to it for many different reasons, most notably it’s practical efficacy, it’s challenging nature, and the family-like camaraderie. While we appreciate it’s history, we also recognize that it is a living, breathing, growing art. It’s not hung up on tradition, but focuses on it’s effectiveness.

Unlike the aforementioned arts that often utilize a more formal, militaristic class-format, BJJ is a bit more low-key. Bowing and “sounding-off” are not demanded, or part of some required protocol. We still have, and show, the utmost respect for all who are willing to brave the unknown and step onto the mat for the first time; we respect those strong enough to become part of the family, continually pushing themselves to be better. The respect Brazilian Jiujitsu practitioners have for one another is a natural extension of the training.

While it might seem a paradox, the nature of such close-quarters, one-on-one combat is actually a cooperative effort. As practitioners, we need good training partners. This creates a symbiotic relationship in which everybody wins when everybody gets better. Thus, each of us is motivated to help the next. We all learn from one another, as we work together to assimilate the techniques and strategies, and develop our own individual game. In this manner, every one of us is a teacher, as well as a student.

So why would anybody want to teach the martial arts? It seems the real question is, why wouldn’t you?


Go Climb a Mountain!

One of my favorite pastimes is hiking with my family. The fresh air and stillness of the forest are rejuvenating. Hiking is all about the experience in it’s entirety – each footstep, every sound, all the colors, from trail head to the mountain top, all add up to total emersion in nature. As with most things, it’s not about the destination, but rather the whole proverbial enchilada. That being said, the destination holds a special status.

The view from the top of a mountain is breath-taking. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to be able to see out over all else in every direction. The higher the mountain, the better the view. Of course, that also means much more time and effort is required to get to the top. Interestingly, this only adds to the enjoyment. There’s some intrinsic reward in great accomplishments that require maximum effort; in knowing that you were able to do it.

“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” – Vince Lombardi, Jr.

When it comes to martial art training, Brazilian jiu jitsu is the Mount Everest of them all. It is extremely challenging. It takes a large amount of time and effort. There are ups and downs, peaks and valleys. There are days, as we say, when you feel like the hammer, and others when you’re sure you were the nail.

Ask anybody who trains, however, and each will tell you the same thing: it is worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears. You will get in amazing shape. You will become tough. You will acquire effective skills. You will be challenged, and have a blast doing it. You will become part of an amazing, positive, focused, hard-working and supportive family, all striving to be their best, and helping you become yours.

Ask anybody who trains and they will tell you, “the view is amazing.”

See you on the mat!

Do The Right Thing

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Will Durant

I’ve always been fascinated by the human condition. Our capacity is unfathomable. Consider for a moment what we have accomplished over the past 1000 years. Science has given us a much better understanding of the world we live in, while technology has made our lives easier. We have 24/7 access to clean, safe drinking water, nearly an unlimited amount of food, and flush toilets. We have developed some of the most fair and equitable socio-economic systems ever witnessed in human history. Our understanding of health and medicine enables us to save lives otherwise lost to accidents and disease. Every child in every modern society has access to a decent education. For crying out loud, we put a man on the moon!

With all of this aforementioned success, with all of the collective knowledge we have attained as a species, we still struggle as individuals. How can there be such disparity in the human experience? Why can so many individuals living in the same time and place experience such varying levels of success?

Did you notice the attribution to the quote above? Most of us have heard it before, but it has been attributed to the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC). He didn’t write it. An American philosopher named William Durant did in his book The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers (1926). He wrote it as a summation of Aristotle’s work Nicomachean Ethics.

Nothing against Mr. Durant, but it sounds way cooler coming from Aristotle.

The fact is knowledge has to be learned, and therefore it can be altered, filtered, ignored, or completely lost. Not only that, but our own minds, with the capacity to put a man on the moon, can be our worst enemy. We can even deceive ourselves into believing the absurd.

How does all of this play into our training as martial artists? Let’s go back to Aristotle, er, Durant. Quite simply, our habits can make or break our ability to succeed. All of the knowledge in the world is meaningless if we have poor habits.

One such habit is making excuses for why we can’t do what we know we should.

Ask anybody in the fitness industry and they will confirm this observation: people can create a long list of well thought-out excuses as justification for avoiding the very thing they know they should be doing. We know more about nutrition and exercise than ever before, and yet the U.S. is witnessing an epidemic of obesity and all of the health problems that come with it. All of the worldly expertise in nutrition and exercise can be neutralized with the simple declaration, “I can’t because <insert excuse du jour>.”

Take a moment to consider the monumental achievements of your human family. Realize that you, too, have the capacity for greatness. Identify your goals, and DON’T MAKE EXCUSES. Just get busy doing what you know you should.

See you on the mats!


Settling In

It’s been a quick two weeks since we first opened our doors, and we’re starting to settle into the routine that builds warriors. Quite a few students from the Auburn Blvd. location have been attending classes helping foster a vibrant BJJ energy. We’ve also had a number of new members joining our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu family. A tremendous Thank You goes out to all of you supporting our new location, and a hearty Welcome Aboard to everyone choosing to join our family!

As with any great endeavor, the recipe for building a warrior is simple. Frequent, consistent, and focused effort over time yields results. While it really is this simple to achieve success, it is not easy. It requires the commitment to show up to class regularly. and consistently. It requires effort, both mentally and physically, to learn and practice the skills. It requires sacrifice, as one must make the time to train. The rewards of all this,  however, so far outweigh the price, that one soon forgets, as the commitment, the effort, and the sacrifice all become part of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.

And what are the rewards of all this time and effort? The list truly is limitless, but here’s a start.

  1. Fitness. Training in BJJ will get you into phenomenal shape.
  2. Toughness. Training in BJJ will make you mentally and physically stronger.
  3. Self-Esteem. True self-esteem comes from actual success in accomplishing worthy, difficult goals. Every class taken, every technique learned, and every time you “roll,” win, lose, or draw, is a victory.
  4. Self Defense. The fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the tenacity one acquires through regular, live “rolling” are powerful building blocks, both physically, and psychologically, to help pave the path deal with confrontation.
  5. Confidence. Knowing you can handle the rigors of BJJ training reinforces the knowledge that you can handle just about anything.


Over the last two weeks, we introduced the children’s classes (Junior Jujiteiros) to the basics of shrimping, the defensive use of the guard position, and a few attacks from the closed guard. This week, we’ll be looking at some basic guard passing, the knee-on-stomach position, and some attacks from the mount. Many thanks to Sean McCandless for the tag-team effort.

“When outnumbered by kids, divide and conquer.” – Sun Tzu (I’m pretty sure)

Christina working that arm-bar from closed guard!

While Cassio is visiting family in Brazil, a few of his amazing black belt instructors are covering his classes. They taught great classes last week, and have some good stuff in store for this week. Dan Goodwin will be working on the knee-slice pass on Monday, and Dan Martin will be sharing his omoplata sweep series on Wednesday and Friday nights. Mark Kamazaki is focusing on passing the spider guard in the 11:00 am class Tuesday and Thursday. The 6:00 am Level 1 classes are working on attacks from side control, while the evening classes are hitting the basic attacks from the closed guard.

If you’re interested in trying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, now is a great time. We’re currently running our Grand Opening Special. Feel free to call 771-0525 for more information, or stop in a few minutes before the appropriate class (class schedule) to start your free trial classes. We look forward to seeing you on the mats!

Our First Open House

Our open house was a huge success! About 80 people got to roll on our new mats, with at least another 20+ there to lend their support. The house was packed with great people, high energy, and the food was amazing!

It looked like everybody got some killer rolls in, and it felt like it, too. The air conditioner couldn’t keep up with the 200% humidity provided by so many Jiujiteiros leaving it all on the mats!

There were a number of different schools in attendance. Cassio Werneck Brazilian Jiu JitsuMattimeWaza Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,  Team Carnage MMA, and Sacramento Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy all showed up to represent. Thank you to everybody who came to support us here in Roseville!

We then got to top off a great workout with some fantastic food, camaraderie amongst our jiujitsu family. Thank you to everyone who brought such great food, and to Aimee for heading up the food committee! Kevin and Claudio rocked the bbq steak, and Jolene made enough pancit to feed an army!

Thanks to Ted and Scott for supplying the tents and grill, and to Dan, Marc, and everybody else I missed here, for all the help setting up and cleaning up. These events wouldn’t be possible without the time and effort of everyone involved.

Força e Honra

Opening Day

It’s been a crazy hectic seven weeks, but the time has come! Outside of a few minor details, all the demolition, construction, and interior decorating is finally done. The walls are painted, and the mats are down. So, let’s train!

If you’re an existing student of Cassio’s, we welcome your presence on the mats. Help bring in the BJJ energy to our new location. Cassio will be teaching two day classes: Tuesday & Thursday, 11:00 – 12:30, as well as three nights: Monday, 7:15 – 8:30, and Wednesday & Friday, 6:00 – 7:15. Here’s a link to a PDF of the June 2017 Class schedule.

Everybody is also invited to our Open House this coming Saturday, June17th. Cassio will be teaching a class from 10:00-12:00, which will be followed with a little camaraderie and FOOD. If anybody is interested in bringing a little something to share, it would be great. We’ll have all the necessary hardware, (plates, napkins, utensils, coolers & ice) Please contact Aimee, who’s helping coordinate the food via the Werneck BJJ group on Facebook.

If you’re a new student interested in getting started, come on in for a free trial. You can attend a couple classes without obligation, and see if our program is the right fit for you and/or your family. Find a class time that works for you on the June 2017 Class schedule, and show up 10-15 minutes early so we can get you signed in for your free trial classes. Or you can call 771-0525 or email ahead if you’d like to schedule a time to get more information.

If this is your first time, here’s a few things to help you know what to expect.

  1. Wear comfortable workout clothing. A t-shirt and shorts work just fine, while some might prefer longer pants. We have changing rooms for your convenience.
  2. Bring a pair of shoes you can easily slip on/off. Flip flops work perfectly. We have a strict No Shoes On The Mat, No Bare Feet Off The Mat policy. This is to keep the mat you will be training on as clean and hygienic as possible.
  3. Come prepared to work hard, learn some cool stuff, and have a great time!

Adults are more than welcome to attend any of the adult classes on the June 2017 Class schedule. If this is your first time doing martial arts, or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specifically, you might consider starting with our Level 1 class. This class is like BJJ 101. It is an introduction to the fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, designed to help you build an understanding of the basics, while also improving your strength and conditioning.

Both Cassio and Darren love what they do, and want to do everything they can to make your experience in our program an enjoyable, rewarding one. Each has been teaching martial arts for over two decades. They’ve worked with people of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels. They’re also parents and spouses. They understand the challenges of scheduling work, school, and play, while trying to provide one’s children with enriching life experiences. They see great value in what they teach, have seen it positively transform 1000’s of students’ lives, and wish to share it’s great many benefits with you and your family. All of us at Werneck Family Jiu Jitsu hope that you will come to embrace the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.

Upcoming Open House

A key component finally arrived today. The vinyl mat cover is in the house, so we should have usable mat space within the next couple of days. We are on track to open up for classes on Monday, June 12.

It only seems appropriate that we have a little get-together to start things off. We will be hosting an open house on Saturday, June 17, 2017, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Whether it’s your first time on the mat, or you’re a seasoned veteran, come join us in celebrating our new location.

Cassio will be teaching a class from 10:00 – 12:00, and all are invited to attend. Then, from 12:00 – 2:00 we’ll be hanging out, eating, and enjoying a little camaraderie. For anybody interested in training, this would be a great time to meet Cassio, talk to existing members, and get an idea of what the BJJ lifestyle is all about.

We hope to see you all there!

The T.I. Saga Continues…

We made some great progress this past week on all our T.I.. For those of you who can carry on a conversation using terms like omaplata, De La Riva, or Berimbolo without blinking an eye, but might not know as much about commercial leases, in real estate parlance, T.I. stands for tenant improvements. For anybody who has no clue what an omaplata is, you better plan on getting signed up for class. We’ll have you speaking the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lingo in no time!

My folks came out to visit their grand-daughters, so I did what any loving son would do. I put them to work. We were able to get the locker rooms and the front desk nearly finished.


A couple other guys showed up Saturday to help knock out the painting. They seem to be anxious for the school to open. I’m guessing they’ve grown tired of crashing into the cinder-blocks and bicycles when we train in my garage.

The net result of all these efforts is we are nearing completion. The painting is done, the changing rooms are all but finished, the spectator’s benches are being built, and the storage shelves and front desk area are being assembled. While our target date of a June 5 opening did not come to fruition, we are so close! The vinyl cover for the mat is scheduled to be delivered today, so we’re planning on putting down the mats tomorrow.

It is safe to announce that we will officially be opening our doors on Monday, June 12, 2017! Mark your calendars!

Memorial Day Monday

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 your family, rolling at an open mat, or attending a civic celebration, we hope you take a moment to contemplate the magnitude of what the day means, and give thanks.