Reasons and tips on Waking Up Early

 

I have been back on my regimen. For about 2 months now, I have been consistently rising up at 5am. I want to start off by telling you the 3 reasons why waking up early is so great. Then, some important notes. Here it is...

1. No interruptions. When I wake up at 5am, I usually go workout. During this time, I have no distractions of outside forces opposing what I truly want to accomplish. For instance, the temptation to go have dinner with a friend over my priorities (things to do in order to accomplish my long term goals) is non-existent at this time. The world is still dark and quiet. The noises of the city streets, the hustle and technology are at minimum and my mind can function clearly. It is just my thoughts, my body and the cool morning air to Do me.

2. Getting a head start. While people are still sleeping, I can use this time to gain an advantage on the people who I am competing against. Simple as that. The early bird gets the worm. You snooze you lose.

3. Organization. I use this time also to plan the rest of my day. Having a clear mental map and timeline of my must dos and want to dos can make my transition from activity to activity a lot easier and seamless. Also, No matter how busy it gets, I can be okay with the fact that I have no time to myself. Because I have already enjoyed growing and doing what I need during the magical hours between 5-7am.

Now for some important notes...
-It is a lot easier to get up early if you go to sleep early.

-If I don't go to sleep early, (get less than 6 hours), my diet will suffer the next day as well. It's easier to make great choices on a well rested mind.

-Fitting in a power nap (20min) can help you beat the 2pm sludgery.

-Plan the night before. My coffee maker is set to go off at 4:30am. The auto-grind of the beans serve as my first line of a string of alarms.

-The path of least resistance. Ie: Coffee ready, bags packed, clothes laid out and food to grab and go... This makes an obstacle free path to smoothly navigate through my morning haze.

-Sleep in on weekends!

Good luck. I can't say it is easy when you start up. But once the benefits seep into the essence of you and you start seeing the benefits of all your hard work, NOT waking up early is going to start being ludicrous.

 

Inspire!

Hi there.  Today I want to tell you a story.  But First, Here is an update on my life. I've made my first World Judo Championships this year.  Thank you everyone that has contributed to this success.  After 25 years on this planet, wondering and daydreaming on subway rides and in classrooms, I finally did it.  The tournament was located in Tokyo and it was a real honor to fight in the birth country of Judo.

Along with that accomplishment, I medaled in my first world cup tournament in Venezuela and I fought close to 10 international and domestic tournaments in the past 10 months.  WOW.

Truth be told, as much as I love it, it has been an arduous road.  Between the heavy competition schedule, the pressure of making the Olympics and of course the grueling hours of training, it has been pretty taxing on my mind and body.   So when I am Gripping distance close to a story which I am about to tell you, it refreshes everything and Truly inspires me.  Here it goes.

When I was 11 years old, A man named Chris entered the Dojo.  He started Judo.  He was very diligent.  He drilled hard and fought ferociously. Some say his Judo style was that of a savage.  His Favorite throw... The DTSTO.  The drop twisting spiraling tani otoshi!  The man stood tall at around 6'2.  Weighing 230lbs, he was definitely no puppy weight.   When I was 12 years old, we both entered the promotional tournament.

Promotional Tournament:  As you would have predicted, the objective of the tournament is to move up in rank.  Basic brown--middle brown--high brown--first degree black--second degree black...  That is the natural progression for intermediate to advanced Judo belts.  To promote to the next level, you must have certain amount of Time-in-grade and victories over your fellow contenders of the same rank.  But this criteria is superseded by the most prestigious, Batsugun.  This is where you win a certain number of matches in a row back to back.  basic to middle brown is 2 in a row.  middle brown to high brown, high brown to black is both 3 Ippons a  piece.  To promote to higher black belts, it requires 5!  You can imagine how hard it is after winning your first 2 matches and having to defeat your third opponent who is fresh and ambitious, foaming at the mouth to bury you into the floor.

Anyways, We both fought in the tournament.  I was 12 years old fighting grown men.  The odds had it.  Vegas was right.  I got mangled.  Chris on the other hand was another story.  He trained hard consistently and he was very well prepared.  He dominated his adversaries and he batsugunned twice over the course of the next 2 promotionals (held twice a year) bringing him to the level of advanced brown belt.  I admired him much.  He was always fun to be around and taught me in so many ways how to be a vicious competitor.

However, when i was 13 years old, Chris left the dojo.  In my eyes, he disappeared like the many fallen victims of Judo discouragement: the discomanglatized fingers, the kani basami knees, the disc slip, labrum tear, financial shorts, the life lemons, you know. I never knew what it was at the time.  But i later find out that Chris was battling demons.  He took his time crushing lemons life threw his way.  Every now and then he would show up at the dojo, but his stint never lasted more than a few weeks/months.  When he came back close to a decade later, my father was hesitant to allow him to join again.  Chris promised this time it was it.  That he came to finish what he started and to dedicate himself once again.  My father reluctantly agreed to Chris' passionate appeal.

Chris came back.  He is now 1 tournament away from being a Judo Black belt.  However, he is older now.  12 years to be exact.  His training began again.  He was persistent and yes resilient.  His old knees were hurting.  Fluid built up.  A Harai goshi, pancakes his body into the tatami, Rib sandwich.   Torazo (our KBI young stud) threw him on his shoulder and he experienced pain there too. Adam Marcus' seoinage.  And most of all, I was no longer a 12 year old boy wishing for Chris to come back.  I spiked his face off the ground many times for his own good.  Now married with a son, holding his Job of teaching chess while getting his Masters Degree, Chris fought with the youngsters at the Dojo Monday, Wednesday and Friday night.  A man on a mission.  How do you think he did his first promotionals back?

Zip Zero

Once again, his Come back training commenced.  He asked for private lessons, and he was a great student.  He excelled with every lesson.  It wasn't uncommon for him to have 2 judo a day.  He hit the weights.  Lifted intense.  6 months after his failed attempt at his first promotionals back, He tried again.

Gripping was on point.  Just how we have been drilling.  His hands shot out to the right positions, controlling his opposition.  He side stepped, shook.  Foot sweeps and sasae swayed the gigantic men before him.  With a swooping motion too quick for the untrained eye, BOOM! Osoto Gari.  here we go.  Another one.  2 matches won consecutively.  1 more for black.  Unfortunately, Chris' back and that yellow tatami must have had magnets in them for that match because they were stuck together.  2nd round is coming up.  I can see the disappointment from the first round in Chris' eyes.  He waits patiently.  He is up.

Boom Boom and ? Third match once again.  This is for the Big black!  Exchange of throws attempted.  Tries at counters, flurries of motion.  Combined 500 lbs banging the wood underneath the mat.  Big man goes for seoinage, Chris lifts him off the floor and there it is!  BOOOOOM!

The crowd erupts in applause.  10 or so dojo guys all there to support him mat side.  My team cheers and gives Chris a big hug.  He's waited 14 years for this.  He conquered his demons and returned to the mat.  Overcame so much!  As all of the dojo guys gathered to celebrate Chris' Blackbelt at a korean bbq restaurant, I realized how grandiose of an accomplishment this was.  Now with a wife, son, job, almost Masters degree and a Judo blackbelt, Chris has achieved it all.  I wonder what his next endeavor will be.  Maybe Chess Grandmaster?  anything is possible.

So that is the end of the story for now.  I am so very proud at this moment to have such a great student.  Everyone dreams, fights, strives, works, laughs, cries, lives and survives.  Hope this story inspired you to reach your own personal greatness.  What is your judo black belt?  Mine is the Olympics.

Its been a while

So I started running 3 weeks ago to supplement my strength and conditioning regimen.  The National Championships are May 1st and I know I will perform the best I have ever.  To do so, I need to train...  Besides for the grueling practices on the mat where I prep my weapons for maximum lethality, I need to work off the mat as well to keep myself in the most efficient condition. In the past, I have been frustrated with my attempts at incorporating running into my daily agenda.  I am heavy set build like a chimp (not champ), have old injuries and have farrr too many fast twitch 2A's to be running for distance.  However, this time around I approached these problems in a algorithmic manner.

1.  Severe Overpronation!  Googled for the right shoes, read dozens of articles and forums.

2.  Knee problems.  Sorbothane insoles to relieve impact...  Thank you Paul for the advice.

3.  Flat feet:  Arch supporting shoes.

4.  Wide feet: Buy 2E's.

So the sum of these problem solving factors, multiplied by my diligent research on the internet leads to the product...The brook's beast '08 with sorbothane insoles.

More coming.......

Summer days

Summer has come.  Although the rain doesn't put me in the best of moods, it is still summer and I am excited for the side effects of the seasonal heat.  Sweat, less clothes, tan and outdoor fun.  All great things the Earth's angle brings upon us. So many have asked me how goes my recent months.  Well, I am motivated and ambitious.  I eat clean every day and work out as hard as I can as frequent as I can while keeping in mind my recovery necessities.  Actually my knee has been bothering me since the Presidents Cup (I took 2nd) so I am sitting out fighting this week.  Still there are many other things I can do to improve my life, so I am on top of that.

When something a little more interesting surfaces into my life, I will let you guys know.  Thanks for reading!

back back

So I am back back in Westchester.  I have moved back home with my parents to focus on my Olympic pursuit...  That and my financial constraints to be honest.  Although being 24 and moving back in with my parents should feel somewhat social developementally regressive, it feels right.  Spending time with my family is great.  I love waking up to the smell of fresh coffee brewing in the kitchen.  My father down the hallway ready to joke and play at whim.  My compassionate mother and her eternal optimism.  And of course my sister with that million dollar smile.  Even though the commute into my regimented life (manhattan) is 30 minutes, I feel as if I have more time in the day to enjoy and take care of me.  I am comfortably living the life of an athlete the way it should be.  With my support system and loved ones close by.  My Judo shall increase exponentially because of my living situation.  So keep checking on me.  I wont let you guys down.   Judo practice was great today.  I had an "on" day.  Tomorrow morning comes heavy morning WEIGHTS!

It's Time!

Wow, it has been too long since I've written.  For good reason however, I have been extremely busy.  I'm moving back up to Westchester and Nationals is coming up this weekend.  I have been training and running errands day after day.  Well anyway, my condition is tip top.  Aerobic and anaerobic conditioning are tipping the balance beam with 50/50 equilibriation.  I have the perfect balance to enter my tournament comfortably without any cutting weight issues.  I am tapering off from my workouts this week and I got my last lift in just now.  All I have to do is stay loose, drill tomorrow and a treat awaits me on Friday night.  No it's not Ice Cream.  It's something sweeter.  2009 National Champion, World team. I've been 2x junior world team alternate, 2x world team alternate.  This is my year for the big salami.  The planets are in alignment.  Thank you everyone for your support. From my dojo, the people that help me and my training partners.

World baseball classic

I absolutely love competition  Whether I am involved in the meat of it, a spectator on the sidelines or in front of a television, I absolutely love it.  I am not competitive about everything though.  I can accept defeat on certain things and take the back seat when I am supposed to.  But when it comes to sports I can not!  I don't follow professional sports like I used to, but on occasion I do like to watch the best work their magic in their respective crafts.  Anything world related in the realm of competitive sports interests me greatly.  The Olympics is a great example.  To me the Olympics are sacred. Every throw, every match, every race and every moment gives me profound poignancy.  Determination, perseverance, heart, courage, all the best qualities a human can possibly possess is tested maximally to determine the best of the best through this World involved competition. Anyways, the world baseball classic is in session.  Korea defeated Venezuela last night to advance to the finals against the Japanese who just beat the Americans tonight.  I was very impressed with the Asian teams.  Not to generalize, but in my opinion, the non-asian Major Leaguers preponderate the asian baseballers.  Yes I said it.  The average American professional athlete seem to be bigger and stronger.  My observation doesn't just end there however.  The awestruck moments I experienced in front of my tv with my family were the moments the smaller, physically inferior athletes took it to the big guns with precisely, the Judo philosophy.   I was so amazed with their skill, strategy and perfection of field manueverance, I couldn't help but be astonished.  Tomorrow evening.  Japan vs Korea.  Check out it if you can, I would love to hear your thoughts about this great rivalry!

Mantra

Some of the common words to describe the word 'mantra' are transcendence, chant, Veda, sacred, meditation, prayer and Hinduism. Although it has a very distinct and rich background,  it is such a flexible word.  To me, mantra is a catch phrase you focus on to be most efficient at the task at hand. I guess this whole deal sounds weird if you have no preconceptions concerning the amazing power of Self-talk. Here is how my mantra helped me. I noticed one day that my Judo was very choppy. I'd rely heavily on my blessed fast twitch 2A muscle fibers and explode into a single move with out set up or finesse. I would explode, hang out, explode, hang on, explode, hang around, and if I was fighting a fish, BOOM! Ippon. My 1-dimensional Judo became very predictable leaving me succeptible to counters and pick ups.  So my mantra became flow.   Flow Flow, Flow Flow, Flow... I would tell myself while I fought.  Eventually, my self-talk coaching methods pulled through and my Judo since has become more fluid.  Grip, create motion, attack the legs, Hi, low, motion motion, KILL!  Since then, my mantra has evolved to Commit.  Commit commit commit...  

Sorry for the super Judo-esoteric post.  All you non-Judo people reading this probably have no clue what I am talking about.  So here is a simple example.   Some youths on the 6 train bump into you and make a fuss.  Your temporary mantra is "relax."  relax relax relax, wow I dealt with that situation really well.  I walked away and I didn't punch anyone.  There you go.

In the zone

I cancelled my Judo lesson with big strong Al to preserve my body for the tournament, now only a day away.  I woke up rather early anyway to adjust to daylight savings come tournament time.  I stepped on the scale, 212lbs.  I immediately rehydrated, inhaled my protein shake and brewed a nice hot cup of organic coffee.  I flipped open my laptop, popped up google chrome and BOOM!  I checked my email.  My inbox stated that my friend sent me an article from the NY times and I would like to share it with you. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/07/sports/basketball/07shooting.html?_r=1&ref=sports

Did you read it?  The article speaks truth about elite athletes and the role psychology plays in performance.  I've had similar experiences where I felt so rapt in the Judo game, that the surrounding universe seemed to be non-existent. It's the ultimate euphoria, sort of similar to the runner's high I guess.   Your interpersonal relationships, insecurities, financial problems, and all the life thrown lemons and such become obsolete.  The immediate task at hand becomes invigorating and you're at the pinnacle of focus without thought.   These are the times when I have fought worthy of carreer highlightship.  The compilation between experience, practice and the so-called-runner's high results in the unconscious mentioned in the article.  Vince Carter, shooting guard for the Nets said, "It’s all about memory through repetition and memory throughout the course of the game," "Most players are at their best when they’re not thinking too much, they’re just playing and immersed in the game and letting the game dictate what they need to do."  

My mental approach to challenging tournaments such as the NY open...  Confidence, relaxation and rest.  Come fight time, focusing on the task at hand, having fun and never giving up.  Unconsciousness, here I come.

Getting ready!

I have tapered off from my lifting regimen.  I lifted light for repetition and did mostly calisthenics on thursday.  Push ups, dips, pull ups, chin ups, etc in a circuit training type fashion.  I must confess however, I couldn't fight the urge to fit in a few sets of useless bicep curls for the spring time right around the corner.  My judo practices have been less brutal and I have been focussing more on technique and flow rather than banging heads all out.  I am very much recovered from many of my minor aches.  I am rested and nourished like a fresh baby that just woke up from a nap and drank their formula.  My weight is perfect, tipping the scales at 215 pounds.  The only thing left to do is believe. I believe I will conquer my inner demons and perform, rest assured my friends.  I usually develop a psychosomatic cold a few days before tournament time, but I refused it.  Almost time, almost time.  I am about to stretch with my beloved flexibility trainer and friend Michael Simmon-Pappadakos.  So if I don't hear from you in the meantime, see you all Sunday D-day.

Thank you Jeantet

First off I would like to thank Jeantet for making this happen.  It is so great that i have my own website like all the Olympians/aspiring Olympians that i look up to.  I would like to discuss my training, my diet and many aspects of my Judo related life on this blog.  Thanks for checking in.  More to come.