Friends and Jiu Jitsu in Chicago

I grew up in Chicago, from middle school to college, and love to visit there as often as I can. I flew there last weekend to visit Matt and to compete in the IBJJF Chicago Winter Open. I also got a chance to train at the New Breed Chicago jiu jitsu academy.

IBJJF Chicago Winter International Open Championship

I don’t feel like writing too much about how I did this time. I’ve been dealing with it quietly for the past week. People that asked me how I did know how I did.

Nothing special happened. I performed well, but fell short. I’m not proud of my performance, but I’m proud of the fact that I did it. I stepped on the mat. That’s more than I can ever ask of myself.

One thing is for sure, I need to compete more in order to get comfortable with competing.

While performing a knee-cut pass, I took a well-aimed headbutt to my forehead and got a good cut above my eye. I should’ve probably gotten stitches, but superglue was good enough.

In the picture to the right, I just finished my last match, with some blood and disappointment still left on my face. The thing I love about the sport of jiu jitsu, especially in competition, is that it’s humbling in a way that very few things in my life have been. It forces me to be honest with myself, leading to a bipolar ride through a stream of pessimistic and optimistic thoughts… from thinking “what the hell is the point of it all?” to walking around truly happy with a stupid smile on my face.

New Breed Jiu-Jitsu Chicago

Mark Vives is the head instructor of New Breed BJJ Chicago. I had a great class and training session there after the tournament. We drilled a ton of takedowns, passes, and closed guard submissions. Good solid fundamentals. Doesn’t get better than that. Best place to train in Chicago!

He himself also competed, and is definitely one of the black belts that’s exciting to watch. He takes risks, goes for submissions, always trying to improve position. One thing he said stuck with me: “When you compete, you don’t lose. You either win or you learn.” It’s a good way of putting an old adage. He doesn’t force his guys to compete, but leads by example, and as a result a ton of his guys follow him into battle.

Visiting Matt

Matt (pictured to the right with me after an indoor soccer game) has been a close friend of mine through middle school, high school, college, and beyond. We don’t see each other as often as we like, but just often enough that we get to do the essentials: argue about something stupid, discuss impossibly big life questions, and have a bunch of good conversation over beer, vodka, and food ranging from extremely healthy to extremely unhealthy.

We definitely both have gotten older (more injured) and wiser (more cynical), but at the core I think we’re both still the same people. Oh and here are some quick clips of Matt playing goalie at a coed indoor soccer league. It made me miss soccer for sure:

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