Chris Matakas

Begin With The End In Mind

This week’s blogs are grounded in lessons derived from reading that have applied directly to my practice of Jiu Jitsu. In our first post, Ann Lamott’s Bird by Bird gave us a mental framework with which to approach something as vast as Jiu Jitsu. Now we turn to Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of […]

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On Incremental Progress

In this week’s blogs, I went to the bookshelf to share some books which have influenced my Jiu Jitsu. The first is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, an enjoyable read about the adventures, loves, and struggles of writing. Lamott chose the title for her book from an interaction she observed between her father and brother: […]

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Injuries and Jiu Jitsu: Understanding our Time Horizon

It seems to be a fundamental truth: if you are going to achieve a high level of technical competency in Jiu Jitsu, you will accrue injuries along the way. Though this is inevitable, we are not completely at the mercy of chance. From a pragmatic approach, there is much that we can do to minimize […]

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Play, Rather Than Work, Jiu Jitsu

One of my greatest obstacles to happiness is that I am so hyper-focused on becoming that I often neglect being. In a culture of growth and innovation, we are constantly tasked to use our time in the most productive way, and when we are not actively striving toward some grand aspiration, ennui sets in. Our […]

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“Savage”: Why We Need A New Vocabulary

If writing has taught me anything, it’s that words matter much more than we are consciously aware. Members of the Jiu Jitsu community have been using the term “savage” in a complimentary manner to describe one another, and I believe we do this at a great cost. We are aware of the connotation of the […]

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Why My Kids Will Train Jiu Jitsu

When I am a parent, my kids will train Jiu Jitsu because a maturing human being needs to purposefully meet resistance to optimally develop. Life in America, for most of us, is better than it’s been in any other time period or location in human history. Our culture has done a fantastic job of providing […]

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Jiu Jitsu, Humility, and The “Big 5” of Academic Psychology

Jiu Jitsu is the vehicle through which we achieve self-mastery. It’s complexity and difficulty create the perfect environment to mold our character. While I was writing On Jiu Jitsu, I found that much of my writing centered around the theme of humility. Since we were kids, humility has been praised as a divine virtue, but […]

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Jiu Jitsu, Death, and Self-Optimization

I spent a great portion of my twenties studying Buddhism and Stoicism, both of which heavily value the theme of death. “Memento Mori,” remember that you will die, inspires us to make optimal use of our finite time. “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die […]

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Why We Must Train BJJ Consistently

With Matakas BJJ opening next month, I have been purposefully training less so as to let my body rest for the many training sessions to come. Though my joints feel refreshed, I noticed that after a long training session of tight guard passing, I had brush burns all over my face. The body adapts, and […]

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How BJJ Teaches Kids To Delay Gratification

There is an experiment known as “The Marshmallow Test,” in which children are seated at a table with a marshmallow in front of them and are told that if they can wait ten minutes to eat it, they can have two instead. Studies have shown that those who are able to wait the allotted time […]

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Jiu Jitsu and Persistence

While discussing my athletic career, my mom reminds me, proudly, “You always won the Mom Awards.” I never won most valuable player, I was most improved. Never most outstanding, but hardest working. As a young boy with a simple philosophy, I did not value these awards. I valued objective success, not the effort which made […]

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What The Dragons of Mythology and Garry Tonon Taught Me About Jiu Jitsu

I have recently found much value in my study of Mythology. Myths are more than stories, they are windows into the collective unconscious, revealing the archetypes we inherit and act out, often with our complete unawareness of doing so. The study of myths is the study of ourselves. A common motif is the dragon, the […]

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3 Reasons Your Child Can Benefit From Jiu Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is more than a martial art with which to defend yourself; Jiu Jitsu is a tool with which to mold yourself.  The training of our character must rise in proportion to the comforts of our daily environment. The heavy cognitive and physical demand of Jiu Jitsu forces our students to grow in myriad […]

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What is Jiu Jitsu?

I was at a wedding this past weekend and so many friends offered a similar sentiment, “Congrats on your new Jiu Jitsu school! … but what’s Jiu Jitsu?” Below is a quick description of what Jiu Jitsu is, why it’s valuable, and why you should seriously consider trying it yourself. What Jiu Jitsu Is Jiu […]

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Our Logo: An Explanation

I felt an explanation of our logo was necessary. Traditionally, Jiu Jitsu schools use an apex predator to symbolize their strength in the dominance hierarchy, a perfect representation of Jiu Jitsu’s superiority relative to the effectiveness of other martial arts. As apt as this symbolism may be, I didn’t feel it best served our purposes. […]

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Our Tagline: Why We Chose It and Why It Matters

Our tagline is “Where we pursue individual goals as a collective.” I wanted to briefly discuss why we chose it, what it means, and why it is so important to the health of the community. Jiu Jitsu seems to be the most challenging martial art, both physically and mentally, to learn and practice. It also […]

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MBJJ Welcome Letter

Dearest Friends, After a long and arduous process of almosts and not quites, we have signed a lease! The future home of Matakas Jiu Jitsu will be 2043 Rt. 130 in Burlington, NJ, where we will start classes by summer’s end. I have been training under Professor Ricardo Almeida, UFC veteran and Jiu Jitsu World […]

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Joseph Campbell’s Favorite Story

Joseph Campbell taught at Sarah Lawrence College for 38 years and is widely considered the leading mythology expert of our time. He has an exhaustive list of books (The Hero with a Thousand Faces being his most well known), interviews, and audio recordings regarding the use of mythology to better understand our own hero’s journey. […]

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How Jiu Jitsu Taught Me To Read

The most efficient way to learn Jiu Jitsu seems to be to focus on concepts rather than techniques. Techniques are the vehicles through which the concepts manifest themselves. To understand a technique is finite. To understand a concept is a superpower. I have always found this to be the case in my study of Jiu […]

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Why I Wrote “On Jiu Jitsu”

Friends, I wrote “On Jiu Jitsu” because the most worthwhile growth which the training of Jiu Jitsu provides is often the hardest to articulate. Our technical skill is tracked by our rank, our health is measured by our waistline, but we have no readily available metric with which to quantify the development of our character. […]

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Three-for-Three: Practicing Gratitude Through Facebook

The world is in a tumultuous time and many of us bear that weight, often using the only mouthpiece we have, social media, to voice our pain. Since the election, several of my friends have taken a “break” from Facebook, as they recognize they feel worse for having scrolled their News Feed. Even if we post […]

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When the Music Stops

One of my favorite joys is to read with classical music on in the background. I find the music instrumental to my extended concentration. I have a cheap phone with just enough storage to run basic functions. With no room for apps, I play music through YouTube. The problem is, while the music is playing, […]

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The Battle, The War, And Something More

Humility is the cornerstone virtue of our fight team. Frankie and the crew arrive each day to improve their Jiu Jitsu by putting themselves in the worst positions with the best training partners. Where so many of us possess an ego, they house a burning desire to learn and grow. It is their strong vision […]

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We are Part of a Larger Whole

I believe the best use of one’s finite life is to cultivate our unique strengths so that others may benefit. “How can I contribute?” is a noble question. How can I best contribute?,  is nobler still. My relationship to Jiu Jitsu is no different. The sum total of all practitioners comprise the Jiu Jitsu community, and […]

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After Competition, Cooperation

The Jiu Jitsu community is divided. This makes us less effective in sharing the immense value we have found in this art. Jiu Jitsu teams span the globe. We come from different geographies, practice different philosophies, and each add our unique twist to the art, but we do so with one major flaw in our […]

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On the Fortune of Being My Teacher’s Student

A great teacher shares a wisdom and perspective that comes from looking back down the path on which we trudge ahead. I am haunted by the nature of myopic thinking: one simply cannot know what one doesn’t know. Without a teacher, we become overly concerned with trivialities while missing the fundamentals which familiarity makes invisible. […]

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Jiu Jitsu and Pride

I am currently reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity in which he describes Pride as the worst sin, as there is no greater impediment between ourselves and others. It got me thinking: What would Jiu Jitsu be like if I were free of Pride? What would it be like to enjoy the practice of this art […]

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Guard Passing: The Trojan Horse of Personal Development

The mindset of disciplined guard passing has allowed me to be more productive in every area of my life. Guard passing is simple and the lack of options is beautiful: If you find yourself in a guard, any guard, the only available action to is pass that guard. This singularity of focus allows us to […]

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My Favorite Passage from Seneca

In closing our study of Seneca, I had originally written a lengthy text about the importance of Stoicism. I reread the below passage and promptly deleted all I had written. Below are the words of a man who understood what we all feel and so often lack the dexterity to say. This is why we […]

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Seneca on Continued Education

The Stoics believed that our true education is a lifelong pursuit. “You should keep learning as long as you are ignorant, – even to the end of your life, if there is anything in the proverb. And the proverb suits the present case as well as any: “As long as you live, keep learning how […]

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Seneca on Virtue

Stoicism is a doctrine of equanimity. We are in control of our own happiness, and in his 74th letter to Lucilius, Seneca shows how the cultivation of virtue makes this possible. There are two types of experiences: those which we cannot control and those which we can. Virtue allows us to distinguish between the two, […]

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Seneca on Philosophy For Everyone

The quality of our thoughts determines the quality of our lives. Our thoughts shape our philosophy; our philosophy shapes our world. To the uninitiated, philosophy can seem daunting. Many hold the belief that philosophy is reserved for the intellectual elite or college classrooms. Often written with a complete lack of prose, and a fumbling and […]

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Seneca on Living Simply

Seneca’s philosophy has survived nearly two thousand years and continues to be a source of wisdom for all those willing to heed his words. Like the great thinkers we have studied so far, Seneca shares the conviction that philosophy is demonstrated through acts, not beliefs. “Prove your words by your deeds.” The highest good of […]

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Seneca on Fear

A common theme recurring in the works of Stoicism is navigating one’s fears. The purpose of philosophy is to learn to live well, and Stoicism teaches that this is found through the cultivation of our virtue on the way to self-mastery. In pursuit of our highest self, we traverse countless fears as we consistently exceed […]

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Seneca on Saving Time

With our study of Seneca having commenced, we examine his very first letter written to Lucilius, On Saving Time. Without a clear purpose for the use of our time, we easily squander our days. Now more than ever, we have with increasing efficiency surrounded ourselves with means to occupy our attention. Candy Crush, Clash of […]

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Introducing Seneca

With our study of Marcus Aurelius having come to an end, we stay in ancient Rome but go back to the first century AD to study the great Stoic, Seneca the Younger. Seneca’s teachings have received wide reception as of late, his essays and letters serve as a great foundation for the practical application of […]

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Summary of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

We have learned much from the private journal of the great emperor, Marcus Aurelius. A pillar upholding Stoic Philosophy, Meditations serves as a manual for living well. In our first post, Marcus taught us about the importance of retreating into one’s self: “Men seek retreats for themselves – in the country, by the sea, in […]

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Marcus Aurelius on Acceptance

So far in our study of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, we have discussed that self-mastery results from mastering one’s thoughts, and that in living according to one’s own nature, our greatest respite from the world becomes turning inward into our own self. The need for equanimity is stressed throughout the Meditations, and we now find that our […]

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Marcus Aurelius on Self-Mastery

If I were stuck on a desert island and had to choose only a few books to help shape my personal philosophy, Meditations would be at the top of that list. The timeless wisdom of Marcus Aurelius reminds us that all is temporary; our bodies, riches, and worldly prestige will soon be dust. He continually […]

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Marcus Aurelius on Living According to One’s Nature

A major theme throughout Marcus Aurelius’s writing is the need to live according to one’s own nature. Regardless of geography or time period, the great thinkers of the past constantly return to this truth. If you are to find peace, if you are to lead a great life, it must be your own. It is […]

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Marcus Aurelius on Retreating Into One’s Self

The Stoics believed that a man’s philosophy is revealed not in what he says but how he lives. A constant theme in the works of Stoicism is the need to be impervious to circumstance, allowing nothing to rob you of your equanimity. In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius reminds himself repeatedly that a sound philosophy is the […]

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Top Ten Books of 2016

I love to read. It one of my most beneficial and enjoyable practices. Each book is a tool for my utility belt, giving me a better understanding of the world in which I live and adjusting my lens with which to better navigate my experience. Reading gives us the gift of learning from the greatest […]

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Introducing Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

After spending some time in Ancient Greece with Aristotle, we now travel to Rome, Italy, at the end of the second century AD, to learn from the great emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire from 161 AD- 180 AD. Known as the “Philosopher-King,” and considered the last of the “Five Good Emperors,” […]

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Summary of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

The Nicomachean Ethics has proved to be Aristotle’s most popular work on the subject. Aptly nicknamed “The Philosopher”, Aristotle lived from 384-322 BC in ancient Greece, contributing to nearly every major field of study in his time. He studied under Plato for close to two decades before leaving Athens to become the tutor of Alexander […]

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Thanksgiving and the Power of Gratitude

I am thankful that I have a warm, dry place to sleep at night in a safe neighborhood. I am thankful that I live with my best friends and our loving dog Mooki. I am thankful my parents live ten minutes down the road, and despite the constant battle of aging, are relatively healthy. I […]

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Aristotle on Friendship

With the first three posts in this series, we discussed that we become virtuous by exercising virtue, that the virtues of character are a mean between the vices of excess and deficiency, and Aristotle’s views on happiness. Now we set our sights on what Aristotle’s take on friendship. Aristotle devoted a sizable portion of the […]

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Aristotle on Happiness

With the first two posts in this series, we discussed that we become virtuous by exercising virtue, and that the virtues of character are a mean between the vices of excess and deficiency. Now we set our sights on what Aristotle called “the end of human [aims]”– happiness. “Happiness is a certain sort of activity […]

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Aristotle’s Golden Mean

In our first post on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics(public library), we learned that we become virtuous by practicing virtue. We are now set with the task to properly define what virtue is using his concept of the Golden Mean. “Virtue… is a mean between two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency.” Echoing Schopenhauer’s advice on […]

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Aristotle on Virtue

With our study of Henry David Thoreau now complete, we turn to Ancient Greece at the time of Aristotle to study his great work,  Nicomachean Ethics(public library), a treatise on living the good life. Aristotle believed that happiness, man’s “greatest good,” is only made possible through living a virtuous life. He divided virtue into two […]

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Henry David Thoreau’s Walden in Review

With this series on Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, we explored some of the major pillars which upheld Thoreau’s philosophy and mode of living. In our first post, we learned that we spend too much time pursuing ends unnecessary to our existence. “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life […]

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Thoreau On Philosophy

This is the fourth post in a series of posts examining Henry David Thoreau’s seminal book Walden. To read the first post on simplicity, click here. To read the second post on personal development, click here. To read the third post on self-reliance, click here. With our final theme in Thoreau’s Walden(public library), we will […]

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Thoreau on Self-Reliance

This is the third post in a series of posts examining Henry David Thoreau’s seminal book Walden. To read the first post on simplicity, click here. To read the second post on personal development, click here Thoreau’s time at Walden Pond was an exercise in self-reliance, though not in the traditional sense. He built his […]

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Thoreau on Personal Development

This is the second post in a series of posts examining Henry David Thoreau’s seminal book Walden. To read the first post, click here Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to live simply, and, in so doing, he sought the most efficient means of personal development. He believed in a life free of distraction […]

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Thoreau on Simplicity

In our first post of this series, we will discuss one of the major themes in Walden(public library), the necessity of simple living. Thoreau spent his time in a small, one room cabin at Walden Pond, consisting of the barest of necessities to ensure that his time was spent in only worthwhile pursuits. Thoreau lived […]

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Introducing Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

With our first series on Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life complete, we now turn toward 19th century New England to learn from famed transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. On July 4, 1845, in an exercise of ascetic living in pursuit of his highest self, Thoreau began a two year, two month, and two day adventure living […]

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Summary of Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life

In the past series, we discussed some major themes of Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life (public library). It is here worth noting that this text is only a small sample of his life’s work, coming thirty years after his magnum opus, The World as Will and Idea (undoubtedly to be discussed at length in the future!), […]

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Schopenhauer on the Opinions of Others

So far we have discussed three major themes in Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life, that the greatest source of happiness is one’s self, and this is pursued through self-actualization of our particular gifts made possible by good health. We now turn toward one of the greatest obstacles toward personal fulfillment, the over-evaluation of the opinions […]

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Schopenhauer on Self-Actualization

In our first two posts on Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life, we learned that happiness consists in what a man is rather than has, and that health is the foundation which makes such joy possible. We now turn toward the crafting of our daily lives, the purposeful ordering of one’s actions in order to reach […]

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Schopenhauer on Health

With our first post regarding Schopenhauer’s take on what makes for a happy life, we now turn toward what makes that happiness possible, namely, the fortune of good health. It might seem an unlikely source to receive advice on health from a 19th century philosopher, but Schopenhauer acknowledged that it was good health which made all […]

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Schopenhauer on Happiness

With the first of four posts concerning the major themes in Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life, we will learn what the great German metaphysician taught about the construction of one’s own happiness. This might seem odd coming from a Pessimist who believed the fundamental error of humanity was the belief that we exist in […]

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Introducing Build The Fire Philosophy

We are excited to announce a new series of posts purposed toward the application of ancient philosophy in our modern lives. As civilization advances, we find ourselves facing problems unique to our benefit of time and geography. With our Maslowian needs met, we turn our efforts toward the upper echelon of self-actualization. The struggles for […]

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A Fasting Two-Day 30-Mile Hike Through The Yosemite Wilderness

I have just returned from a fasting two-day 30-mile hike in the Yosemite Wilderness. It was a grueling experience through a pristine landscape which produced a stillness I have never known. Our senses collect data at every moment, and we often don’t notice that things as simple as conversations, images, songs, and television, even passively […]

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Rocks, Sand, and Our Greatest Freedom

With the second post from my experiences on this trip, we will discuss a very different kind of adventure, not of mountainous landscapes but of the mind. I recently spent time in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, a desert terrain filled with canyons that remind one of 127 hours and rock formations that […]

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How I Celebrated my 30th Birthday

A few days ago I celebrated my thirtieth birthday, in a way I had never imagined. Waking up before the sun, I made my way to the Conundrum Creek Trailhead just outside of Aspen, bag packed and headed off. A popular tourist attraction in the summer and fall months, the park authorities shut down the […]

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SNEAK PEEK: Chapter 1 of The Tao of Jiu Jitsu

While writing, I find myself always returning to Jiu Jitsu. I have made an effort to focus my writing on fiction, for I believe this to be where my future lies, but I am ceaselessly compelled to write about this art. I have spent more time practicing Jiu Jitsu than any other human activity, in […]

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The Knight in Rusty Armor

It’s commencement day I’m tasked to go at it alone As a token of my progress They gave me armor like stone. It shines bright in the sun And clinks and clanks with every move, Not a blemish to be seen It appears I have much to prove. The first great struggle It wasn’t that […]

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A Movement Toward The Meaningful

As the world becomes increasingly connected, we will continue to find more opportunities to express ourselves. This creates the temptation to spend more time on the expressing rather than that which is expressed. Mankind still competes with one another for our survival. Where we once fought for mating rights and the best cut of meat, […]

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The Significance of Storytelling

Storytelling remains the backbone of our education. We grow up begging for bedtime stories; as adolescents, we yearn for television and movies; and, in adulthood, many of us turn to books. Joseph Campbell, world-renowned mythologist and author, discussed at length the importance of myth. He had a wide understanding of myths across geography and time, […]

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On Writing and Work Ethic

Writing is difficult and intimidating. Nothing makes you question your worth like a blinking cursor on a blank page. Many great writers encourage that the first draft should be absolute garbage. It doesn’t matter. No one will ever see it. The point is to get the ball rolling. Writing is like physics; more force is […]

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On Jiu Jitsu and Effort

Jiu Jitsu is a skill. All skills are fostered through intelligent repetition. There is no substitute for mat time. The most efficient way to get better at Jiu Jitsu is to do Jiu Jitsu. With the combination of guidance and will, effort is the deciding factor in a student’s progress. “We tell ourselves that skill […]

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Modern Stoicism

All undesirable circumstances afford us the opportunity to practice virtue. It is the moments in life we least enjoy which are our greatest assets. Stoicism is a school of philosophy founded by Zeno in the 3rd Century B.C. Stoicism teaches that virtue is the sole requirement for happiness, and through the use of logic and […]

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The 10 Books Which Most Shaped My Philosophy

Since publishing “On the Importance of Reading”, I have received many inquiries for book recommendations. Below I have listed the most impactful books I have read (in no particular order), but this advice comes with one great caveat. These books worked for me. That does not mean they will work for you. Remember the teachings […]

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Five Ways Stephen King Can Improve Your Jiu Jitsu

This week I read On Writing by Stephen King. The premier instruction manual for the aspiring writer, King shares his thoughts on what constitutes good writing. Pithy and illuminating, King teaches the fundamentals of mastery which hold true for Jiu Jitsu. The following is derived from the first section of the book titled, “C.V.” (Curriculum […]

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The Gift of Fear

The truth of adulthood is that few people care whether or not you pursue your dreams. Even worse, we rarely share these dreams with others. This leads to a complete lack of external accountability in matters we deem most noteworthy. Luckily, we come hard-wired with a tool to combat this: Fear. As much as the […]

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On The Importance of Reading

We read not to understand the author. We read to understand ourselves. We read because it gives us a language to articulate what we feel but previously could not find the words to say. We are never alone in our experiences. The path is well-trodden. The highest purpose of reading is to find highly-skilled travellers […]

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The Implicit Impetus of Jiu Jitsu

In the martial arts community there exists a tacit truth which goes unspoken because it is so socially repulsive. Way, way down, deep in our core, we enjoy the feeling of being able to physically subdue another human. Academies across the globe consist of members from all walks of life with equally different goals. Martial […]

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The Instructor-Student Relationship

I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach Jiu Jitsu. She is an art of great complexity, both physically and cognitively, whose mastery eludes the practitioner in perpetuity. I understand Jiu Jitsu more than any other area of human study, and thus it has become the metaphor through which I seek to understand much […]

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An Open Letter To All Of Us On Social Media

If you have seen the movie or read the book Into the Wild, then you are aware and perhaps forever altered by these words. McCandless, a young-thoreauian male wanders off to Alaska to find truth, inadvertently poisons himself by eating the seeds of the wild sweet pea, and in his waning moments inscribes these words in […]

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What Sylvia Plath taught me about Happiness

I recently finished reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It was a beautifully-written, tragic tale of a young woman battling her own demons along with those inherent to all whom embrace this human condition. With witty prose and subtly didactic dialog, Ms. Plath truly created something magnificent before she took her life at the […]

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Why your New Year’s Resolutions will Fail

Each year many of us attempt New Year’s resolutions. Each year most of us fail. We fail because a new month, a date on the calendar, and a new year are all social fictions. There is actually no such thing as January 1, 2016. This is odd but true. What actually is January? We arbitrarily […]

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What Makes a Hero?

What makes a Hero? If you want to know the psychology of a culture seek to understand its heroes. From the Aztecs to the Greeks, from the Bhagavad Gita to modern day athletics, what a culture celebrates reveals what it values. We have many heroes to choose from when selecting a role model at which […]

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When I Reflect

When I reflect upon my life On my brightest and darkest days The times accompanied with strife Served me more than times of praise. When I reflect upon my mind And all the things that I have learned It seems my growth is largely confined To the moments my scars were earned. When I reflect […]

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Friend

Friend By Chris Matakas Our God must favor me to send A man of which I can depend, To see the way in which you’ve grown A will so strong the fates must bend.

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High Atop your Gilded Throne- Poem

High atop your gilded throne Basking in the summer sun, Enjoy your time in the light For it will soon be done. Days pass beyond our grasp Months tear away like sheets of paper, Your beauty changes with the season And my emotions solemnly taper.

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The Fallacy of Words

We humans are a beacon of intelligence and reason. Among all the sentient beings of this world, we stand among the top of the intellectual food chain (and we constantly remind ourselves of this fact). The major distinction between ourselves and the other animals on this planet is language. Through a colloquial system derived from […]

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One of the Many Ways Jiu Jitsu Has Taught Me Humility

One of the prerequisites to becoming highly skilled in Jiu Jitsu is that you must first lose extensively. We must fail over and over again until having learned from those failures we grow beyond them. If you are fortunate enough to be in a room which constantly reminds you of your shortcomings, you will inevitably […]

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What the Wright Brothers Taught Me About Purpose

I spent the last week of August in Nags Head, NC, and had the most humbling opportunity to visit Wright Memorial Park. To stand on the field where Wilbur and Orville first took to the air, to see the landing sites of each successively further flight, and to read the inscription upon their memorial high […]

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5 Key Tools to Master the Art of Reading

There are innumerable works covering the vastness of human activities, so much so that we can become highly educated in nearly any area of human study through solitary learning. We are afforded the opportunity to read the thoughts of the great men of the past, and our world view and wealth of knowledge benefit from […]

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The new My Mastery has been released!

Dear Readers, As we have done with my previous books, we wanted to give you a peak inside my newest book, My Mastery: Continued Education Through Jiu Jitsu. Keeping in theme with the original My Mastery, this is a book more about success in life than success in sport. Using the endeavor of skill acquisition […]

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On The rewards of meditation and the surprising obstacles (It’s not what you think)

The following is a letter I wrote to a dear friend in response to his questions concerning my practices of meditation. Considering that this is becoming a popular method of practicing mindfulness, it is our hope that the topics discussed in this letter could be of use to many of our readers. Enjoy! B, First […]

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A Poem for Jiu Jitsu

Seven short years ago I began a lover’s quarrel with Jiu Jitsu As my intentions waned too and fro I had no idea what this journey would amount to. I competed and fought I tore ligaments from finger to knee The greatest lesson this journey has taught Is I have the control to decide who […]

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A Lesson From Socrates

Around 2,400 years ago in ancient Athens, mankind was dealt a humbling blow to our collective self-confidence, and it came by the way of Socrates. We all know the name Socrates, but few know what he stood for. In my eyes his greatest lesson came

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The Real Reason to Earn a Black Belt

I have been given the rare opportunity to teach Jiu Jitsu for a living. This is a privilege that I wake up everyday grateful for, and a responsibility that I hold dearly. I understand how rare it is to be employed through a labor you genuinely love, and one which can be used as a […]

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#Human: The Preface

Friends, With extreme gratitude we announce the release of my new book #Human: Learning To Live In Modern Times. Very much in line with the ideologies of My Mastery: Learning to Live Through Jiu Jitsu, this book dives straight into the matter of cultivating an amazing life. Traversing the spiritual landscape from seeing through the […]

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We Are All Artists

Many, many generations ago, when man existed as wanderers across the land, and hunted in packs, societal acceptance was an absolute prerequisite to survival. Our very life depended on the acceptance of the group, and so we acted accordingly to ensure that we would remain part of that group, and be granted the benefits of […]

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On the Oneness of All Things

True intelligence and awareness is gazing at a bee on a flower and understanding that the two are actually a single organism. In our attempt to break down the world into small, digestible chunks, we have created a misperception in the way in which we view, and articulate this view, of the world. As our […]

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Independence Day: Living Up to the Name

On this day 238 years ago, we declared our independence from the kingdom of Great Britain. There was a time when the states were recognized as individuals, and people would say “The United States are..”. Now we stand 50 in number and exist in a state of unity, as people now proclaim, “The United States […]

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Why I Train Jiu Jitsu

In the past few days I have been asked numerous times why I train Jiu Jitsu. My inquirers expect answers involving arm bars and berimbolos. In truth, these are the farthest from reasons why I practice this beautiful art. I train because it makes every area of my life better, and it makes me better […]

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On the Polarity of Things

In life we too often focus on the foreground, and forget the background. We view things in space to be more real than the space itself. We forget that things can only be things when there is something which is not a thing, the space. Conversely, space can only be space when there is something […]

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Impermanence: Building Castles out of Sand

Impermanence is a beautiful thing. Actually, more accurately said, Impermanence is that which makes every thing beautiful. All of the joys of the human experience owe their intensity to the ever-receding state of existence. Everything we love, we love all the more when we realize that both it and ourselves will not be here for […]

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Humanity & Sport: The Common Ground of Jiu Jitsu

I have been blessed to be a member of an incredible team at RABJJ for the past six years. Jiu Jitsu has given me more in terms of self-worth and relationships than I had ever hoped. My only response now is to try to pay these benefits forward to my students and teammates. Jiu Jitsu […]

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Why you should define your vision statement today

On the importance of a Vision Statement: A few weeks ago I sat down with the hopes of clearly articulating my message. How could others understand my message if I could not concisely describe it for myself? Human beings most often fall short in areas that they find themselves unable to clearly specify their feelings […]

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Jesus was not a carpenter forever. Will you be?

While on the path of personal development one inevitably comes to the point where living for one’s self just seems too menial. This can happen at any age, but at a certain point you see that constantly focusing on YOUR concerns, trying to focus on YOUR problems becomes an insult to your existence. It becomes […]

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The ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’: How to find purpose in your life

Half a decade ago I graduated college. Upon being thrown into the real world, my friends and I began to start our careers. Five years later, we are officially “adults”. There has grown a clear distinction between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. But this is not a distinction of money. This is a distinction […]

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Ten Important Life Lessons from Martial Arts

I have been incredibly fortunate to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the best in the world for the last half decade. The past five years or so have been the most enjoyable and growth filled of my life. I have met great friends, brilliant teachers and have been afforded the opportunity to be part of […]

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The Thinking Mind

Thinking, like any of our inherently given abilities, is a skill. And this skill serves a very specific purpose. But we have misunderstood the terms of using such a tool, and we constantly try to use it for projects that require a different one. Thinking, you see, is like a hammer. And when nails are […]

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Embrace Dichotomy. Embrace Yourself.

di·chot·o·my /dīˈkätəmē/ Noun 1. A division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different. In my own efforts towards self understanding and personal mastery, I have spent the past few years trying to find a balance. On one hand, I have been pursuing mastery of a martial […]

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Forgo Public Praise in Pursuit of a Better You

There exists an unfortunate paradox of being human: Our most valuable victories are those which go without praise When you win a game, you receive a trophy. When you perform well at work, you are awarded a raise. However, there are no trophies for the real victories in life. There is no external praise when […]

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Drops in the Ocean: What Will You Contribute to the World?

We are bound by the narrowness of our existence. Our empathy confined by only those experiences with which we have shared. We are quick to look at our lives in this moment, and begin to think that we have even the faintest idea of the footprint we leave on this world. There is an adopted […]

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Values & Happiness: Define the Terms Yourself

I believe you will never be truly happy until you know what happiness means to you. Society gives us a generalized definition of happiness in which we have a well paying job, spouse, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. Webster defines happiness as a state of well-being and contentment. Albeit a nice thought, this […]

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Life Lessons at the Eye Doctor’s

For the second time in my life I have committed to wearing contacts. I say second time, because about ten years ago I attempted this feat to no avail. My combined lack of patience and long eye lashes proved too great at the time. My eyesight has gotten progressively worse over the years which inevitably […]

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Empathy: It’s Nothing Personal

Sometimes it becomes difficult to see the common ground we all share. On the surface our lives are so full of contrast that we often forget just how much we have in common. It is important to realize that no matter what our jobs, passions, appearance or lifestyle, we are all on the same road […]

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The Pareto Principle: Accomplishing goals with purpose

While living our incredible busy, alarmingly finite lives we must be sure to use our time efficiently and effectively. This has been the focus of my study over the past few months as I have read anything I can get my hands on regarding the most important of topics, learning how to learn. I have […]

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Bar stool advice from an old friend

I recently ran into the father of one of my former students at a local bar. After exchanging the usual words and sharing a few beers, we delved into the nitty-gritty of what it means to truly live. I hold this man’s opinions in high regard. A recently retired financial trader and father of four, […]

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