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.
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.
My mother and sister came. I can’t thank them enough for their love and support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How I came to visit Leipzig is one of those serendipity moments. I met a girl from my hostel in Vienna and she invited to visit Leipzig after Dresden. It wasn’t on my plan, but why not I thought. At times I think about how I travel before and how I travel now. I make more room to meet different people and have unique experiences. For example, I don’t have a concrete itinerary and I couchsurf through friends of friends. I’m glad that I had room in my schedule to see this city.
Tina showed me around her Leipzig during her off day. We had lunch then we walked around the city center. We went to a museum about the GDR( German Democratic Republic), it was all in German but I had a translator with me. While traveling through Czech Republic and East Germany/ Dresden I am learning more and more about that time. Tina said Germany is a young country when you think about the unification of the West and East sides. Germany is only 26 years old. Germany is a millennial?
She took me to see Völkerschlachtdenkmal, it’s a famous monument that symbolizes Napolean’s defeat in Leipzig. I should read more about Napolean, his legacy is still lingering in Europe. He is one of those historical figures that I studied in History but I don’t remember the details. History tends to be buried underneath new history on top of present day news. For it’s worth learning more about a continents history because in turn it affected the United States become what it is.
Music was everywhere in Leipzig. Not only can you find it walking around down town or in the park, but when I was at the haupbahnhof and a traveling choir started singing in the atrium. It was an incredible experience that I can only give thanks to letting things go and see where things end up. I will definitely come back especially since I didn’t have time to train Jiu Jitsu.
Dresden, Germany. A city famed for being bombed on February 13, 1945. I stayed with my friend, Thomas, on old Camino friend. We went hiking to Bastei and reminisced about the Camino. The weekend I came to Dresden there happened to be the biggest party of the year. I met some local Germans, had a picnic, and drank some beer. Dresden has the advantages of a small town and of a big city.
I originally heard of Dresden in Howard Zinn’s You can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train documentary. During the final weeks of the war, Dresden was bombed to great extent. The amount of casualties is still up to debate because of the amount of refugees from Czechoslovakia. Most of the old buildings were destroyed and the old town was leveled. Since the end of World War 2 and the fall of the iron curtain, the restoration has reinvigorated the old town and the city itself.
I walk with Thomas and Maria during my Camino hike last October. I visited Yun-Jin (Maria) last month in Seoul. I made a point to visit Thomas in Dresden. It was great to go to a new city and already have friends. It’s one of those things I really appreciate traveling through Europe alone. I slept on Thomas’s pull away Ikea couch. We saw another Camino friend, Louis, who studies in Dresden. It was during the biggest party of the year in Dresden. It was a great experience. On Sunday, we went on a hike to Bastei. It was good to get out of the city and see nature. Thomas had to work during the week but we hung out when he came home. We met up with Louis again my last night.
We had a picnic BBQ next to the Elbe. In central Europe it is very common to see people in the park having a picnic and drinking outside. Thomas has this small convenient grill that we used to cook some chicken, pork and steak. It was a perfect day for a picnic when the weather is perfect. I met Rebecca, Thomas’s room mate, and Thalia, Rebecca’s sister. I heard Rebecca’s au pair experience in Arizona. It’s interesting to hear other people’s travel experience of my own country. Picnics are one of my favorite things to do. I have to do more when I get back to the States.
I spent five days in Dresden, but I felt that wasn’t enough time. I saw some friends and met new people. I tried to train Jiu- Jitsu but google maps led me on wild goose chase. I was able to get some exercise by hiking and biking to the ghost gym. The weather was really excellent to enjoy with friends. I don’t know when I’ll return to Dresden but I had good memories here.
My rundown of Brno, Czech Republic. It was my first Matsurfing experience. The overall level in Brno is young but promising. The hospitality of Jan “Honza” Stach amazes me. I took a private lesson for leg locks. I will like to return some day to train for a longer period. The feeling of a new city every week has itself turned into a routine, still a good routine. By the end of the week I gain new friends that were strangers at the beginning of the week. This has been a really memorable part of my journey.
If any one knows about long term travel from experience knows that it isn’t cheap, everything costs money. Europe is no exception. BJJ Globetrotters started a site called Matsurfing.org. It is like couchsurfing but with Jiu-Jitsu contacts. I booked Vienna and Bratislava months ago. Now I don’t have that much money. So I decided to give mat surfing a shot. An aspect of travel is pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. So I sent a few emails near my itinerary and Brno was the first to reply back. I plan to use it as much as I can for the rest of my journey. It was a great first experience with the site.
The overall level of Jiu-Jitsu in Brno is blooming. A very young scene in Brno at the current moment of 2017. A lot of white belts and a few higher belts instructing. That doesn’t mean to count them out of anything though. I met Michal, the instructor of Jungle BJJ Brno. He has beautiful school with a lot of hungry students. A very friendly guy, who took me to lunch after a training session. Although in general Brno Jiu-Jitsu level is low, Jan Stach at Fight Club Brno is doing tremendous things in the No-Gi realm. His beginning students have adapted his leg lock attacking style. They may not have heel hook or attempted a knee bar on me but their straight ankles are just as lethal. I’m eager to fast forward to see what five years will look like.
I arrived on a Monday and I needed a night to myself in a comfortable environment to write. I met up with Jan on Tuesday, training wasn’t scheduled for that day, but he introduced me to Jirka, a white belt who cross trains in different gyms, who took me to Jungle BJJ Brno. I trained five times that week. Jan told the other instructors about me, so they knew I would be sleeping in the gym. Jan was very helpful and available if I had any questions. There was a couch in the back room of the gym with blankets. There was also showers and toilette. A draw back was no Wifi. The gym was located right next a tram line that goes direct to the city center running every 5-10 minutes. There were 3-4 really good guys at Jan’s gym. I was schooled by the different approaches to Jiu-Jitsu.
“Teaching Jiu-Jitsu is like being a lighthouse keeper. It is a lonely job but you still have to go up there and turn on the light and be beacon for others to guide off of.” – Jan Stach, paraphrased
The No- Gi game at Fight Club Brno humbled me and my defensive skills. I normally can relax when someone gets my back but Jan and his students had implemented an arm trap system to secure the back. It’s a sequence that I haven’t seen before. Afterwards I asked Petr, a hulk of a Czech with gnarly Cauliflower ears, to teach me. I’m eager to also implement it into my game. I learned so many new techniques that opened my mind to the possibilities of Jiu-Jitsu even more. It think because of the school being primarily No-Gi. I asked for a private lesson in leg locks and Jan was happy to give it that Friday. I learned one version of his entries to his leg locking system. It is through circumstance and opportunity that I was able to train in Brno. I’m so grateful for passing through this city.
On my last day I traveled with Fight Club Brno to a competition in Slovakia. Jan, Michael, and Petr competed. I watched and recorded video. I didn’t want to compete because I didn’t want to risk getting injured, especially because my travel insurance doesn’t cover competition. Michael won two and lost in the Finals to an armbar from Jan. Petr took first place in his advanced division. Jan swept the division with submission victories. Afterwards I told him he needs better competition. Jan has only been training 4 years and competes almost every weekend. It is a testament to his teaching and his grappling style that he and his students placed in the competition.
Would I Matsurf again? Yes. I was able to meet with people and train more because I slept where I trained. The generosity of Jan and his love for Jiu-Jitsu is contagious. The only thing I can do is pay it forward. I’m excited for this pivotal time in Jan’s career and Jiu jitsu in Brno. It will be interesting to see after the scene in Brno when I return.
(I caught the last two minutes of the final. Jan’s transition were impressive.)
How to get to Brno: FlixBus from Bratislava or Vienna.
Gym Count: 13 visited in 2017
“Most travel, and certainly the rewarding kind, involves depending on the kindness of strangers, putting yourself into the hands of people you don’t know and trusting them with your life.” ― Paul Theroux