Move forward

I’m in this cross roads in life.  I should either get a job or go back to school.  An unalterable fact is that I’m going through physical therapy for my ACL surgery recovery for the next 6 months.  I had to decide fairly quickly so earlier this week I went to my local community college and applied.  It is fairly daunting to go back to school, especially being 34, but if you put all the anxiety behind you everything will work out.  I took a pretest for my basic college skills.  Basic math and pre-alegebra, English reading and English composition.  I did horrible at math and English composition.  I understand that I suck at math, I hated it in school.  But English!? It’s my mother tongue.  I also write constantly in my journal, text, letters, and postcards, but rarely on this blog.  It’s honestly something I avoid trying to be good at, or even average at, because I didn’t need to write well in any of my jobs that I’ve had. (Navy Eval writing doesn’t count.) Regardless of my skills I need to improve on these subjects if I want a better life.  Not just to be good in school or avoid remedial classes.  If that is the result I will accept it.

I bought a cliff notes my review book and I’m going to read some English writing books I had on my book shelf.  My test is in 11 days. I’ll be using this blog to be an experiment of sort for my writing improvement.  I thank everyone and anyone who actually reads my writing, I know I should proofread and organize my thoughts better.  I don’t do it well because I never really was taught how to write a blog.  I usually type in a stream of consciousness way.  The way I usually write letters, postcards, or journal entries. 

I have this feeling that school gives me a new excitement for life.  A new chapter.

 

Learn to draw

This video came on my Youtube video feed.  I feel he should be highlighted for his work and effort.  It’s a long video to watch but that doesn’t mean it isn’t insightful.  There were times I walked away from the computer and I just listened to the sound.  Give it a watch or a listen.

I struggle with what this guy struggled with, learning art.  I went to art school too.  Volen, the artist in the video,  basically wanted to learn about art six years ago.  Fast forward to 2019 and he learned so much on his own as described in his video.  He goes through his processes, mistakes and failures, and what he learned out of all of it.  He explains everything so humbly, as if he was an amateur even though from my perspective he is very good.  He knows there is so much to learn still and he came a long way.  At the end of the video he explains the trap of Youtube and learning from people on the net. As though he was afraid  he was one of those people you shouldn’t listen to.  A self conscious statement but a humble one.  I think because he comes from a place of not knowing anything about art and then becoming very experienced on his own is very encouraging for others.  I believe he should keep posting and inspiring others.  The volume and amount of work he has accomplished is very impressive.

I look at Volen’s work and I realize that if I want to become an artist I have to work hard.  The problem with that is I still think the path is undefined.  I feel like art is so broad that it can’t be taught by just one person.  (Can that statement be used for Jiu Jitsu as well?) For example. He just kept taking classes from different online instructors and sources.  He kept self correcting his mistakes after. There are so many ways to create a picture. I think art school was such a waste because it was a lot of self discovery, and fixing your own mistakes.  It isn’t a black and white test sheet.  I feel like that was the conundrum of art school.  They want you to grow as an artist while completing assignments.  The goal is to learn and grow, not to produce things to grade.  The problem is both teacher and student get lost in that dichotomy.  Maybe the small schools of atelier got it right.  I don’t know I have never been, but I have seen their art and students work. Ateliers are workshops/schools where there are masters teaching apprentices a certain discipline.  I sometimes wonder if that will be a better choice than going back to art school.

This was a good video for me because recently I’ve pondering going back to school.  I was thinking about going back to art school because I was so close to finishing.  No other degree peaks my interest.  Maybe English or creative writing.  I like hedge my bets.  I really enjoy traveling and languages.  So maybe I’ll be an English teacher in South Korea or Spain.  A reason why I don’t go to an Atelier to learn how to draw and paint.  It doesn’t have a degree attached to it.  So I can’t use my GI bill. I want to make the most out of every benefit the military offered me.

What I learned from this post.  I need to produce more volume.  It will be a long road.  Although it seems like the journey is well worth it.

Week 7 Post Surgery

I know, I know. It has been a long time between posts.   It just isn’t on my to do lists.

A few things to report on the past few weeks.

Cloth Drawings.

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Purpose of the Drawings.  I want to get better.  I need to work on a portfolio. I think back of Daniel Adel’s Paper drawings.  Amazing. It really is practice.  I went back to drawing instead of water color because to paint you really have to be a good draftsman.

A failed Comic book.  On my birthday I tried to do a 24 hour comic since I couldn’t travel or do anything I wanted to do like Jiu Jitsu.  I wanted to do a comic about my travels in 2017.  It was a good subject.  I just didn’t have enough skill, experience or drawing endurance to complete such a task.  It was a major undertaking.  I learned a lot from the experience.  My curiosity peaked to study the world of comics and drawing more.  I read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud again. Then I read Making Comics. Now I’m reading Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner.  It is a project I still want to do in the future. 

Some provoking questions to ask myself.  What do I want to do with my Art?  Do I want to make beautiful art. Yes. But that can’t be the only reason to make art.  Anyone can make a pretty pictures.   How do I transcend the surface of it?  Story.  Maybe a narrative to connect the viewer/reader with the art. Beauty gets boring.  I like to laugh and have fun. How can I steer my work in that direction?

My friends and family came to visit.  It felt great to get out and experience Houston with my guests.  I have friends here in Spring but childhood friends have a special place.  We laugh and reminisce. They are also very creative and doing different things with their lives.  Its interesting to hear their stories.  We did a myriad of things. We visited the Johnson Space Center, watched a pro wrestling event in a parking lot in Montrose, saw the Fighting with my family movie, ate Texas BBQ at Corkscrew BBQ and tacos at Bigotes.  Larry and Fernando are going to start a pro  wrestling podcast. I fully support them because of their wealth of knowledge and experience of the industry.  I pitched them a travel show where they go to different countries and interview the wrestling scenes in each country. There are subcultures in every country and pro wrestling is no different.  I suggested the countries I’ve visited or want to visit. South Korea, Ireland. South Africa or Mexico.  I can be their camera man  I think its undiscovered territory in the Vloging world.

We went to Nasa Space Center. 

My mother and sister came.  I can’t thank them enough for their love and support.

My mom and I after 1 week post surgery. 

Post Surgery day 3

I’ll try to make this short.  I tend to write forever about nothing and in an unorganized manner.  I had my 2nd ACL (anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery on Friday.  The first part of me didn’t know what to expect.  The 2nd part was that this was my 2nd time, so it will be a piece of cake.

I feel like there’s always anxiety when you come to such a major milestone in your life such as knee surgery.  I really don’t know what the rest of 2019 will hold for me.  I can only concentrate on things that I have control over.

Learning Watercolor

One of my year goals is to start painting. There are a lot of bad examples of watercolor on Google. It is a good thing that I always had a few artists in my mind when I think about water color. I really enjoy David Levine and Andrew Wyeth. That’s all the artists I can think about right now.  I need to research more on this subject. When I think about watercolor, I think about flowers and vibrant/happy colors representing a picture or something painted to an almost photographic quality.  I haven’t seen anything that’s very inspiring within the watercolor community. This is my amateur opinion. What I’m trying to say is I haven’t seen the art that I would like to see within the medium, besides Levine and Wyeth.

What am I doing? I am teaching myself to paint. I have a bunch of water color instructional books, paper, and all of 2019. By the end of the year. I hope to be proficient and confident in the medium, not expert.  I would like to do postcards and travel sketches so I can send to friends or possibly make a book.  I also want to paint the things I want to see. Like Jiu Jitsu moves, and food.

Here are a few pieces. I made color swatches. (Image above) Why? What’s not explained to a normal person. Is that you can’t just paint straight from the tube, well you can but the color’s intensity tends to be too strong. A David Levine study and my Seattle magnet.

1st painting of the new year. David Levine
My Seattle magnet.

 

More to come.

A year in Texas

I realized that I still auto pay for this domain. I couldeither cancel it or continue blogging. I’m going to continue blogging. Despite not keeping up with this. I’m going to start again. Its one of those new year resolution things.  I want to write more.

I moved to Spring, Texas about a year ago. Before that I was on a 6 month tour around the world.  My year in Texas consisted of going to welding school and training Jiu Jitsu. My Jiu Jitsu knowledge improved but my athleticism decreased, because I became  efficient with my movements. I finished welding school with a base knowledge of pipe fitting. I’m still very green in welding but I have a gig fabricating furniture. When I’m working in the environment it feels good to apply what I learned and use my problem solving skills I learned in school. More on this subject to come. I kept studying Spanish but I feel I didn’t progress very much without italki lessons or consistent speaking practice.  I still have travel debt from that year of travel but I do not regret one second of it. I have 2019 and the rest of my life to pay off that once in a lifetime experience.

A few of my 2019 goals.

-Recover from my ACL Reconstruction surgery. Yes, I tore it again. I will be taking a break from Jiu Jitsu. During my recovery I will still be learning and improving my game.

-Apply the Jim Rohn’s 70-10-10-10 rule. I’ve been lying to myself saying that I know how to handle money.  I really don’t. I have to educate myself on the subject.  It’s something that I must do if I wish to become wealthy.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that can improve the way they handle their finances.

-Volunteer More and donate to 10% to charity. I probably won’t blog too much about this. I think people want to show people that they volunteer instead of actually volunteer. Sort of like being a tourist and taking pictures of cool places.

-Spanish. As soon as I get consistent money I will continue using Italki. I want to read more books in Spanish.

-Make Art. Eventually I’m going to go back to finish art school. I’m older, wiser and a seasoned adult.  I know if I put my mind into something I’m going to do it.  First, I have to create and get my skills up.  I have to build a portfolio and learn to paint in watercolor and acrylic/oil.  My Gi bill expires in 2032.  Expect more art posts.

-Go to sleep early and wake up early. My goal is to go to sleep at 9pm and wake up at 430-500am. The Rock does it, and he accomplishes a lot.

-Blog consistently. Obviously.

That’s it for now.

Moved to Houston, Texas 2018

I moved to Houston, Texas.  What inspired me to move to Texas?  A year ago I said I would come back here.  The people I told that too probably didn’t believe me.  Maybe I didn’t believe myself.  Nonetheless, I actually did move to Texas.  It’s still weird change for me.  It was the only way I can see my life continuing.  My life in the Bay Area was stagnant.  I was living at my parent’s house, working and Jiu Jitsu, no real forward progress in life.  It was nice to spend time with family and see my friends, but something wasn’t right, a little off.  I accrued lots of debt from traveling and working as a line cook or barista wasn’t cutting it.  I thought that I better move and start a career so I can carry on with my life.  The only plan I had was Texas.  I researched the school, GI Bill compatibility, welding career salary, cost of living in Texas, Jiu Jitsu school and support system.

I train at Maven Jiu Jitsu in Spring, Texas.  I met the instructor, James, on Guam while I was stationed there.  I felt the quality of his instruction is unparalleled to what I have seen in my years of Jiu Jitsu training.  He is someone who really thinks deeply about the subject.  I’m excited to learn and understand Jiu Jitsu on different level.  The school has fairly young ranks of white belts and a few blues, but that doesn’t stop the place from being a great gym to train at.  My friend, Kevin, whom I also met while I lived in Guam had moved to Texas to train with James.  My time in Texas will be a life experience that I will never forget.

I enrolled in welding school in Houston, Texas.  My tuition is being funded by my GI bill I earned from my enlistment in the Navy.  I will graduate 9 1/2 months from now as a welding specialist with pipefitting.  I finished my first week.  My day is school, Jiu Jitsu, rinse repeat.  I should explain a little bit more about my life but this will be all for now.

 

It’s over and home.

(sigh)

First. I apologize to who ever reads this.  After Porto I just go so busy.  My family came to visit and I spent time with them. Then after a week of drinking I fell off.  I didn’t go back to writing this blog.  I was still writing in my journal and on my iPod. I will have to blog my thoughts as a back log now.

I’ve been back a week now.  I’ve been trying to internalize all that I experienced and seen.  It’s a weird feeling being back.  I’ve never been deployed but I’ve been in the military.  Coming back after 6 months of travel is weirder than leaving the military. Possibly because I’ve seen parts of the world I never thought I would have seen. I have a new perspective on life. Although I’m not quite sure how to explain it.

My family says I’m a lot thinner.  I checked my weight. I weigh 170 lbs just about the same weight I was when I was most of my adult life.  Before I left it was the winter holidays so probably gained weight from that.

How have I changed? Did I change? It’s hard to define.

One. My Jiu Jitsu has evolved. I still get tapped, of course.  I don’t think I roll with as much ego as I once did. I just like to have fun and try some stuff I’m working on. I’m more goal oriented now. My Jiu Jitsu is influenced by my travels and the camps I attended this summer. There’s no way to plateau now.  To progress in Jiu Jitsu, you just have to keep going and always be curious. Whether it be camps, privates, cross training. open mats. The community is so big and welcoming that there will never be an end to it.

Two. How do I view the world? The world is big.  Depending on where we live and grow up, we only see this it through our own viewfinder. I’m not saying my viewfinder is better than most. I just can spot things that I couldn’t spot before. I think that is what travel can do for you.

Three. What now? I have a lot of debt from traveling. I saved and paid for a lot of it, but I also need to work it off. To do so I need a job.  I’m really picky when it comes to work.  What I found out in my 32 years on this earth.  I may not know what I want to do in life, but I crossed out the shit I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be in the Navy anymore, I don’t want to work in healthcare, etc.  I’m basically pursuing jobs I think are cool and if I don’t like it I will just do something else.

no edits just a late night first draft.

 

Day 135. Porto, Portugal

Surfing, Jiu Jitsu and Family

Bruno, our surf instuctor, helping out Svenja with standing up.

A few days after the Copenhagen Camp I ended up in Porto, Portugal. I wondered what I would do when I got to Porto. From the start of my trip I knew my family was coming to Portugal. I had to decide what to do before I met them in Porto. My options were I would either walk another Camino from Porto to Santiago, hang out in Porto for a week, or…. wait for it. Go to a surf school.

How long does it take to not be self conscious in a wet suit?

Porto will be an unforgettable chapter in my trip.  I learned to surf and met other beginners from all parts of the world. I trained Jiu Jitsu in the afternoon and nights after surfing. I drank and hung out with cool people whose couches I could use in the future. I was reunited with my family and I had old fashion family vacation.

Food brings people together. Argentina, USA, The Netherlands, Germany, South Korea, and France.

I booked the camp when I was in Vienna after talking to Tina, from Leipzig post, who described her love for surfing.  I thought that I should try it out. One should push themselves outside of their comfort zones. How else can you grow as a person? I found Surfivor on Google.  A great place with very comfortable accommodations. Bruno and Albert are very good surf instructors.  It seems they still have a lot of enthusiasm for it after many years. There were plenty of beginner students just trying it out.  Most nights the students ate dinner together and drank together. This experience has made me really enjoy surfing.  I will continue to surf in the future.

Gabriel from Romania. He just finished the Camino Frances.

I get my recommendations where to train from the BJJ Globetrotter Facebook Group.  I simply remember or search where people go to train on the forum. So far every place I’ve trained at has not disappointed me. I account that this is also a very open community that loves the sport and showing people their love for Jiu Jitsu.


Focus Jiu Jitsu in Porto, Portugal was one of the best places I’ve trained.  Manuel Neto, the head instructor, was very friendly and welcoming.  Focus has Jiu Jitsu three times a day Monday through Friday with one class on Saturday. The location of the gym is located inside a bigger gym/crossfit/MMA place about three blocks from the beach.  I rented a bike and it took about 15 minutes from my hostel.  A large amount of higher belts, one them just came back from Worlds and was awarded Black Belt. The facilities are clean, showers and a large mat space. The majority of population of Porto could speak English and the gym was no exception. I will definitely return to this place in the future.


My family visiting Porto before they attend a wedding in Lisbon was my favorite part.  I love Jiu Jitsu and surfing, but I enjoy spending time with my family.  It’s a good recharge from the months of travel I’ve been through.  There were many times on my journey where I get homesick.  I would call my sister and see how things are doing back home.  I did this more on this 4 months of travel than my 7 years in the Navy.  I took them to the restaurants that Tiago, the surf camp owner, recommended to me. They enjoyed the Francesinha, Restaurante Ababia do Porto and eating at the grilled fish street. We spent roughly two days in Porto together but I instilled them the love for Porto that I felt.

After 4 months of traveling I am reunited with my family.

My plan is to come back for a month to Porto maybe next summer. The surfing, Jiu Jitsu, and the amazing Portuguese food are a few reasons why I will return.  I’m already planning my return to Portugal.  I want to continue surfing when I return to California so I will be better when I come back.  The lifestyle is very similar to something I imagine myself I would be when I grow older.

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Day 122. Copenhagen, Denmark


My first BJJ Globetrotter Camp. When I first decided to travel around the world this was the first thing I booked, it was also one of the cheapest camps. All I had to do was travel to Copenhagen, lodging not included in price. I didn’t know what to expect for my first Jiu Jitsu camp. I kept my mind open and trained as much as my mind and body let me.  At the end of the camp I gained many friends and invitations to different gyms all over Europe.

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Peter from Sweden, Nick from Wisconsin, Patrick from London,

Some of my favorite tips from the Copenhagen Camp Information Guide by Daniel Bertina. Pace yourself, take notes and be social. Six days of 8-9 hours of Jiu Jitsu is a lot for anyone.  I didn’t want to burn myself out so I went to open mat at least once a day and I attended an average of 2.5 classes.  I would have liked to have attended more classes but it will just be a goal for next time.  I took notes for the classes that I did attend.  A tip that I will do next time is record myself doing the moves again in sequence with a partner to accompany the written notes. I should have been more social during the camp. This is one aspect that I did not take advantage until the end of the camp which was too late.  Next time I will attend the welcome meeting/ Jiu Jitsu speed dating, dinners and a few drink afterwards. The trick is to have a right balance of socializing and rest for the next days training sessions/classes.  As you can tell I’m already convinced that I will attend another camp.  The next important question is which one?

Nikita from Ukraine and Brian from the US.

A rolled with the original BJJ Globetrotter on the last day, Christian Graugart. Many years ago he went on a trip around the world to train Jiu Jitsu in as many different gyms as possible. It spawned into the friendly travel community we now know. He is not the first to make Jiu Jitsu camps but his BJJ Globetrotter brand has the most amount with 10 camps in different locales around the world. I felt honored to roll with him. He rolls like a black belt, relaxed and very composed against a lower belt, like myself. Although very playful and fun. A very approachable guy, it was interesting to pick his brain about the camps and his travels.

I trained everyday during the camp. I didn’t go to every class even though I wanted to. I socialized more on the last few nights. I should have went out more in the beginning especially for the Jiu Jitsu speed dating session to meet people.  I should have recorded myself summarizing the techniques I just learned. A Gopro is good but my iTouch with a tripod would have been fine. I met people from all over the world and received many invitations from gyms and gave out just as many.  I wonder when and where my next BJJ Globetrotter camp will be?

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