Newsletter December 2017

Thanks to everyone that came!
During the weekend of October 28th, we had Drysdale Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Renato Canuto, come to Clarion MMA and teach two amazing seminars! Renato is a black belt under his father, Valdir “Tio Chico” Canuto, and Robert Drysdale. Renato is one of the top representatives of Team Zenith Jiu-Jitsu in the international circuit, and has proven his championship level of expertise in many different events, including winning the 2016 IBJJF World Championship in both Gi and No-Gi. Some of his other recent titles include UAEJJF Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Los Angeles Champion, and IBJJF American Nationals Champion.  When we say “recent”, we mean it!  The weekend after his seminars he and wife both took home gold medals from IBJJF Long Beach International Open!



Our Biggest Sale of the Year!

Really, I think we only have one sale a year, but this will be our biggest one yet!  Starting Sunday the 19th and running through the rest of November we are offering a huge selection of deals.  There will be a number of items that will only be available on a first-come-first-served basis, so plan on being there on the 19th!  Here are a few the highlights:

  • Used Gear will be available for 1/2 OFF!  Gloves, heavy bags, puzzle mat squares, striking pads, swords, and more!
  • Used Gis up to 1/2 OFF!
  • Save 20% on any catalog order placed on the 19th!
  • The $5 table will be back!
  • Discounts on in-stock items!


Sell your old Gi

This year we are trying a new idea, a Gi exchange sale!  Get that old gi out of your closet and turn it into cash!

A lot of us have a gi that either doesn’t fit anymore or was ordered from a discount website and turned out to be the wrong size.  This is the perfect opportunity to put those gis in front of somebody that might be looking for exactly what you have!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Bring in your clean gi before November 17th.
  2. You set the price you would like to sell it for (see suggestions below).
  3. We will run the sale from November 19th – 30th.
  4. If your gi sells, and you want the cash, we are asking that you donate 15% of your sale price to our Boosters Club and you take 85% in cash.  Or receive 100% in credit for purchases at Clarion MMA.
  5. If your gi doesn’t sell, you get it back.  No fees, no problems!Some things to consider when setting the price of your used gi:
  • People are buying used to save money.  Typically they expect to save 30%-50%
  • We have new plain Jiu Jitsu and Judo gis in stock at around $75.
  • New lightweight karate gis are $35.
  • Premium Jiu Jitsu gis typically run $125 – $150 when new.
  • We add $20 to the price of a gi if it comes with a set of Clarion MMA patches sewn on.
  • The more worn the item looks, the bigger the discount should be.


Grappling Tournaments

Spring tends to be jiu-jitsu season, with a variety of events throughout the region.  There are always a few tournaments, but one that we are already aiming for is the NAGA tournament that will be in Pittsburgh on April 14th.  We will take down an army to see how many medals, swords and belts we can bring home!

Don’t wait until March to start preparing!  Right now we are laying the foundation for that event.  This is the time that we are working on new moves and developing new strategies for each person.  In February and March each person will be refining their best techniques.  If you want to be refining new techniques, then please show up now to add them to your toolbox!  Too often people put all their effort in right before the tournament so they miss adding all the new stuff.


Come Fly With Us!

In February we are taking a trip to Las Vegas to train.  If you are interested in going, we need to know!  Here are the details:

All are welcome to join us. There will be plenty of training on the itinerary, but none of it is mandatory. Feel free to take the trip and spend your days doing whatever you please in the hotel or the city!

We will visit at least two or three gyms over the course of the weekend. There is likely to be a mix of gi and no-gi jiu jitsu and there is usually a kickboxing class for the those that want it.

Included in the base price of the trip:

  • Transportation to the airport from Clarion.
  • Flight to Las Vegas.
  • Hotel for four nights.
  • Transportation with the group while in Vegas.
  • Unlimited bottles of water while in Vegas.
  • Training at Drysdale’s academy and all of the other gyms that we can fit into the schedule.
  • Flight back home and transportation back to Clarion.

About the hotel:
We will get the best hotel(s) possible for the money and what the majority of the group feels is important. Typically there are two options:
1- A cheap hotel but everybody gets their own bed
2- A great hotel room with a bunch of people crammed in. This is where we would end up at a better hotel with a pool, hot tub, shuttles to the strip, etc.

If any person wants we can book you a single room for an additional cost.

There is also the option for a cheap hotel room with a bunch of people crammed in. This would save some money off the base price of the trip, but there would need to be at least four people interested in this option for it to work.

Base Price – $400 to $450 depending on transportation prices in January. This is projected to be only $400, but I want everyone to be prepared, just in case. The airline we used this summer is no longer running the cheap and direct flight from Pittsburgh to Vegas, but we will find the cheapest alternative.

Add a trip to the Grand Canyon for only $50! For those that are interested we will venture out to the Grand Canyon on Sunday. We will take pictures, hike around a bit, and do the stuff one does when they visit.

If you are going but not training, you can subtract $50 from the base price.

We would like to know now if you are considering going. Confirm by November or December. A $250 deposit is due by January 1st. This will be used to buy your plane ticket and is non-refundable. The remainder of your balance is due by Feb. 1st.

The Tentative Schedule

On Thursday, Feb. 15th we will leave Clarion in the late afternoon for a flight that evening. We will arrive in Las Vegas late on Thursday evening, stop by a grocery store and then check-in to the hotel.

On Friday we will have training throughout the morning and evening. Friday night is open.

Saturday will begin with training, probably in the late morning. The afternoon and evening are open.

On Sunday we will offer an optional trip to the Grand Canyon. This will use pretty much the full day.

Monday morning we are back on the mats again. We will try to squeeze in an evening session too, depending on when the flight leaves Monday night.

On Tuesday morning our flight will land back home and we will return to Clarion at some point before 10am and spend the day wondering why we live in western Pennsylvania.

Newsletter September 2017


plankFlexibility is important.  Whether you are using our yoga class as your intro in fitness or you are using yoga as the last piece of the puzzle to make you a well-rounded athlete, our class has something for you!

We are still trying to find the perfect home for yoga on our schedule, so be sure to check the facebook group for updates.  For the month of September you can join the class on Wednesdays at 5:30pm and Thursdays at 6pm.  If you have a yoga mat please bring it, if not, we have a mat you can borrow for your first class.

This class is appropriate for adults of all skill and fitness levels.  It’s all about working to the best of your own personal ability and making a stronger, healthier you.  The flexibility will come with time, no need to start with it!


Art Contest

We are in the process of creating a handbook for members of the academy.  We would like to feature the art from some of our students.  We are are looking for all levels of art.  Kids and adults, get out those  pencils, crayons, brushes or charcoals and let’s see what you can come up with!  We will give a t-shirt to everyone that gets put into the book and credit you by name.  Likely selections will include lions, people in a gi, people doing martial arts, the zenith logo or the words Clarion MMAIf you happen to be a great illustrator let Leo know, there is also a larger project you may be able to help with.

Back to School

tee shirtIt’s that time of year already!  Time to get new backpacks, the best new calculators and laptops, and a fresh new wardrobe for that first day of school.  With our new partnership with Hayabusa, you can get yourself or your child looking slick going down the hall with a cool shirt like the Hayabusa Glory Title T-Shirt!  All you need to do is click here and scroll to the bottom, selecting the “find your gym” option.  If you register under Clarion MMA your order will be 15% off and include free shipping to the academy!


Academy Rates

For some members our rates will increase slightly starting this month.  If you are currently set up for autopay or are paying for privates, none of this affects you; I appreciate your consistency and want to reward it by grandfathering you in at your current discount.

If you are paying at the academy every month now but want to keep your current rate all you need to do is enroll in autopay this month and you will be locked in at our current rates: $25 per month for once a week, $35 for twice a week, or $45 for unlimited classes.  All you need to do is provide a card that will be automatically charged each month.  Please note, if you pause your autopay, you will be subject to the current rates when you reactivate.

Otherwise, here are the rates starting in September (still crazy low, just a little higher than before!):
One group class per week – $30 per month
Two group classes per week – $40 per month
Unlimited group classes – $50 per month
Private class, one hour, Junior Instructor – $15 each or 5 for $60
Private class, one hour, with Leo – $25 each or 5 for $100

Competitor Package – 12 private classes per month, unlimited group classes and a custom training schedule – $200 per month. (Only available with autopay, $100 due on the 1st and the 15th of each month.)

October 21st Jiu-Jitsu Tournament


October 21st is the date for our next Jiu-Jitsu tournament as a team. This event will be the 11th annual Western Pennsylvania State Grappling Championships at the Baldwin High School in Pittsburgh. This event will have both gi and no-gi divisions.

You can pre-register to compete in both divisions for $75. If you wish to only compete in one of the divisions then the cost is $55. At the door fees for adult divisions are cash only, and are $85 for both divisions, and $65 separately. Kids must register by Tuesday, October 17th in order to compete. You may bring friends or family to cheer you on during the tournament and they can purchase a spectators ticket for $10 at the door, with cash only.

More information on this event can be found here.

Academy Classes

moriLogo Have you ever wondered what the other classes that are offered at Clarion MMA are? We’ve probably got a lot more going on here than you first thought! Many students here study only one martial art during their training every week. There are some though, who come to different classes during the week so they can maximize their training and become a more well-rounded martial artist. Listed below is a breakdown of all of the classes that are offered here and how they tie in to each other. Hopefully this information will spark your curiosity and get you excited to explore what else Clarion MMA can offer to you!

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A martial art with real and dependable techniques based on grappling and submissions. This art has real life applications and is extremely practical with proven results in actual self defense and in the sport of MMA. Offered to youth and adults.

Judo: A martial art based on technique and leverage by utilizing your opponents momentum against them and taking them to the ground by the use of throws and trips. Judo is also extremely practical and has proven success in self defense and MMA. It is a perfect compliment to Jiu-Jitsu in that it gives you many avenues to take your opponent down and control them, so that you may use your Jiu-Jitsu to then set up a submission finish. Offered to youth and adults.

MMA 101: This is a class geared for those who are interested in competing in the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. This class combines all aspects of martial arts through striking, grappling, takedowns, and submissions. This class is a perfect transitioning point for those who have been training in Kickboxing, Karate, Jiu-Jitsu, and/or Judo to get a chance to put it all together and learn how compete in the octagon! So whether you want to become a fighter, or just learn how to train like one, then this class is for you!

Karate: This is a traditional martial art utilizing strikes to incapacitate the opponent and safely get out of harm’s way. This art focuses on punches and kicks and specializes in self-discipline and respect through the use of katas and fundamental movements. Great for those interested in jumping into the world of the striking arts! Offered to adults and youth.

Kickboxing: This is a class with a focus on the sport competition side of striking, utilizing punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. This class can be practiced at any level of skill, whether you’re prepping for your next cage fight or looking for a great cardio workout, we have something for you to work on!

Yoga: This class is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline that focuses on breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures. This art is widely practiced for health and relaxation. Your martial arts skills can be greatly enhanced through the practice of Yoga, as it will increase flexibility, self-control, and mobility of your body. Heavily recommended for all of our students!

Jiu-Jitsu Open Mat: This is by far one of our most popular classes of the week. Open Mat is a time where students can come in and freely work on whatever they want with other students on the mat for a full hour. Whether you want to get in a couple rounds of rolling, hit the bag, do some sparring, or lift some weights, there’s guaranteed to be someone here for you to work with!


October Pot Luck & Game Nightpotluck.05

Friday, October 13th we will be hosting a pot luck, game night, and movie night here at the academy! Any member of the academy is more than welcome to attend and bring along friends and family! It’s encouraged that you bring something good to eat that can be shared with everyone, whether it’s your favorite recipe that you would like to cook, or something as simple as a bag of chips, or a pizza from Dominos. Though, it is not required for you to bring something, just come out and see everyone for a fun evening of games and movies! Events like these are part of what makes everyone at Clarion MMA such a close-knit community. It’s a great time for us to step away from training for a moment and socialize with each other. Hope to see everyone there!





Newsletter July 2017


Hot off the presses!

For a while Leo has been working on a book that is now complete and available to the public.

“Everything is a Metaphor: Letters to my Boys”, is a collection of letters and essays that outline Leo’s ideas for success both in the martial arts and in life.  Thoughts on belt promotions, improving in martial arts, and even the recipe for weight cutting can be found in the book.

Copies will be available at the academy or you can order your copy from amazon now.

Private Classes

Need a little extra training outside of class? Do you have a certain technique that you really want to refine or would you like to find a way to take your game to the next level? Then private classes are exactly what you need! Private lessons offehayabusa gir one-on-one instruction at a high level of detail that is tailored to your individual skill set. Private classes are one hour blocks of time where you reserve an instructor for one or two students. We can use the time to work on physical conditioning, preparing specifically for a future event or more long term improvement in one or more styles of Martial Arts.For a senior instructor the rates are $25 per hour, or prepay 5 for $100. These rates cover weekday times between 9am and 9pm. Additionally, it is possible to schedule outside of the preset times (such as before 9am and on the weekends), the rate is $35 per hour for those times. For a junior instructor the rate is $15 per hour, or prepay 5 for $60. Lastly is our competitor package that combines 3 private classes per week (12 per month) and unlimited group classes for $200 per month. Sign up today to take the next step with your Martial Arts training that you won’t get during group classes!


Instructors available are:

Senior Instructor: Leo LeFay. He has trained around the world and learned directly from world champion competitors and coaches. He is trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and kickboxing. He is a proven successful coach to Jiu-Jitsu competitors as well as MMA fighters.

Junior Instructor: Haven LeFay. He is 13 years old and has eight years experience in the Martial Arts. He has literally trained across the United States and around the world. He has trained in Brazil and Japan, has won numerous tournaments, including the Canadian Open, and is the star of our youth program. He is skilled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, and Judo.

Junior Instructor: Corey Swartz. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and has trained across the United States and learned from world class competitors and coaches. He is a successful competitor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is trained in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Safety Crisis Management, Kung-Fu, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, specializing in Guard and Rubber Guard tactics.

Ninja Birthday Parties

ninja_party_hat_185x222Clarion MMA now offers Ninja Birthday Parties!! We will do all of the work and planning for your child’s birthday, so that you can just relax and enjoy the day stress free! Just choose your theme, choose the package that fits your needs, and let us know how many kids will be there. Leave the hard part to us! All parties include Martial Arts lessons and games, and your child gets to be the assistant instructor for the day! Plus, the birthday cake will be cut with an actual sword! With our all inclusive package, we will cover invitations, piñata, goody boxes for each guest, pizza (because ninjas love pizza!), soft drinks and water, snacks, cake, 45 minutes of lessons and games, and 45 minutes for food/presents. Plus, we will do all of the cleanup! This way you don’t have to worry about a thing! For more information on Ninja Birthday Parties, click here!

Gaming Camp

July 31st through August 4th is our Gaming Camp! This camp will be focused on being social, not physical. Card games, board games and of course video games. We will discuss game design, game mechanics and theory. Led by Leo, who has worked as a game designer and professional video gamer, we will play and make games all day long. Offered to ages 9 and up.

August Can Day/Pizza Party

Don’t forget that August 20th is Can Day! We will be at Wal*Mart again collecting donations to help the academy. This means we will need the help of the kids that train with us! Kids are able to volunteer in two hour sessions at a minimum, but are able to stay longer if they would like. If a child participated during last month’s Can Day and helps out with this one as well, then they are invited to a pizza and laser tag party at Clarion MMA after!

Belt Testing

jiu_jitsu_1 The time for belt testing is right around the corner, so it’s important that we make sure that we’re constantly preparing for that day to come. As students, we must always strive to learn more, and improve ourselves every single day, in life and in Jiu-Jitsu. That being said, do you know the requirements you must meet in order to get that next belt promotion? Are you working on those requirements to ensure that you possess the skill and knowledge necessary? Here at Clarion MMA we have study sheets that you are more than welcome to grab to help you get ready for your next belt test. These sheets will outline the areas that you will be tested in and will give you some examples and options for each category. Of course, just having the study sheet won’t be enough, it’s up to you to put in the reps and practice to make sure you have the criteria memorized. Take advantage of these great tools and ask for a belt testing study sheet today!

Contest Winner

The winner of the photo sharing contest for Mythbusters Camp is Debbie Stephens. She has won $40 in gift certificates to local restaurants! Thanks for sharing and your prize is ready for you at the academy!

Newsletter June 2017

Summer-Camp-logoSummer is already here and we’re kicking things off with a bang in June!  We have our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu camp from June 19th through the 23rd, it will be an entire week packed full of everything Jiu-Jitsu.  We will talk about history and theory, as well as jump into hands-on lessons and training.  This camp is suitable for youth with an understanding of the basics.  Offered to ages 5 and up.

July 17th – 21st we will be hosting our Mythbusters camp! Chemistry, physics, fires, and small explosions! What more could any kid want? This camp will be a week long adventure, full of fun and educational games that will introduce hands-on experiments that are sure to spark the curiosity of the campers. Offered to ages 9 and up.

July 31st – August 4th is our Gaming Camp! This camp will be focused on being social, not physical. Card games, board games and of course video games. We will discuss game design, game mechanics and theory. Led by Leo, who has worked as a game designer and professional video gamer, we will play and make games all day long. Offered to ages 9 and up.

For more details on our camps click here



Clarion MMA now has a partnership with Hayabusa Fightwear!  This means that we are selling everything that is available on the Hayabusa website.  Anything that is ordered through Clarion MMA helps the academy, plus you don’t have to pay any shipping fees!  We also offer a very easy exchange policy to help make sure you get the right size.

You can now have the slickest gi on the mat, at an affordable price, such STJJG-B_600w.pngas the Hayabusa Stealth Pearl Weave gi!  This gi is specifically designed for those in mind that are cool, collected, and walk the mat with strategic prowess.  The Hayabusa Stealth gi was created with a soft, light weight design for the tactician to comfortably set their traps on the mat without the heavy hindrance that other gi’s have.  It can be yours for only $149.99!

Browse the entire Hayabusa catalog here and let us know what you would like to order.



Matt after winning his debut fight.

Fight Night – On July 15th there will be MMA fights in Campbell, Ohio, about an hour from Clarion.  Three of our members will be competing that night, so be sure to get yourself a ticket and come out to support them!  Fighters on the card are Mikey LeFay, Matt “Goku” Baugher, and Julian Flenory.

General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Clarion MMA.  We also have a limited number of upgraded table seats available.  These seats are elevated and have the best view.  If you want to join us in this section the seats are $50.  Reserved table seats must be paid for by June 25th.



st,small,215x235-pad,210x230,f8f8f8.lite-1u2beltsStarting this week we are offering something new for the summer, 8am drilling.  Join the group Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for an hour of practice, drilling, reps and rolling.  There won’t be a structured class being taught, instead it’s a chance for you to get on the mat and workout with a partner.  You can bring your own partner or just show up and go for it.

Teens and adults only.  Work on whatever you want, grappling, striking, gi and no-gi.

Newsletter May 2017

IMGP0463Robert Drysdale Seminars and Belt Promotions

Last weekend the head instructor of our jiu jitsu affiliation, Robert Drysdale, flew in for two days of seminars and belt testing.  The seminars were excellent and I look forward to his return every April so our students can continue to learn directly from him.

Everyone did extremely well on their individual test and as a result they made the entire Clarion MMA academy look good.  However, I want to point out two people in particular who stood out, Rob and Anna.  While they seem to be opposites in every way, they were both very impressive during their tests.  Read the rest here

Upcoming dates:

May 20th – Wal-Mart Can Day.  Kids, please pitch in and help out.

May 27th – Kumite Grappling tournament in Monroeville.  Adult and kids divisions.  We are going, are you?

June 19 – 23 – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu camp. Offered to youth ages 5 and up.

July 15th –  Our team will have three fighters at MMA fights in Ohio.  Tickets are available if you want to watch!

July 17 – 21  Mythbusters Camp.  Ages 9 and up.

July 31 – Aug 4  Gaming Camp.  Ages 9 and up.

Jiu Jitsu tournaments are happening at least a couple of times every month.  A coach may not be available to sacrifice the time and money every Saturday to go with you, but if you are eager to compete just let Leo know and he will get you the information you need to take yourself or a small group.  If you organize yourselves in a group we will make an extra effort to find a coach to go with you.  Here are some dates of a few tournaments – May 13th Pittsburgh, May 27th Monroeville (the team is going), June 3rd Pittsburgh, June 17th Delmont, July 15th NAGA in Cincinnati


Can Day Fundraiser – May 20th

We have tried many different fundraising options but none have been near as successful as the kids standing in front of Walmart asking for change.  This is not my favorite way to go about raising funds but based on the past results this is definitely worth the effort.

So, on Saturday the 20th, we will be back at it.  I am asking for all kids that are able to do so to pitch in and join us.  If you appreciate what Clarion MMA does for you and your family please consider helping out with this important event that will help us grow and improve our school.

There will be an adult present all day; well behaved children may be dropped off, no need for you to hang out with them if you don’t want to.  Even though it may be hot a Gi is the preferred attire for this.  The uniform is what will set us apart from other groups and helps attract attention.

We will be out there from 9am to 7pm with multiple people at each door.  Let us know what time you can be there.  Thanks for your help and support!

If you want to know why we are fundraising, read on.

2017 Summer Camps

Clarion MMA will be running three summer camps open to the public.  Each camp has a pre-registration price of $100 and that covers the entire camp, Monday through Friday, 8am – 6pm.

June 19 -23 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu campcamp scarlet reagan

This week will be filled with everything Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  We will talk about the history and theory behind the art, plus dive into hands-on lessons and training.  This is suitable for anyone with an understanding of the basics. Offered to youth ages 5 and up.

July 17 – 21  Mythbusters Camp

Chemistry, physics, fires and small explosions, what more could any kid want?  This fun and educational camp will introduce hands-on experiments that are sure to spark the curiosity of the campers.  Ages 9 and up.

July 31 – Aug 4  Gaming Camp

This camp will be focused on being social, not physical.  Card games, board games and of course video games.  We will discuss game design, game mechanics and theory.  Led by Leo, who has worked as a game designer and professional video gamer, we will play and make games all day long.  Ages 9 and up.

*Please note, due to the extra expense of running this camp there is a $20 technology fee added to the price of registration.

Click here for more details about each of the camps



Belt Promotions – Spring 2017

Last weekend the head instructor of our jiu jitsu affiliation, Robert Drysdale, flew in for two days of seminars and belt testing.  The seminars were excellent and I look forward to his return every April so our students can continue to learn directly from him.

While he was here he tested eleven of our members for advancement in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Congratulations to:

Xander – Yellow Belt

Robyn – Orange

Scott B – Blue

Rob S – BlueIMGP0313

Chris M – Blue

Dave D – Blue

Joy H – Blue

Maleigha W – Blue

Julian F – Blue

Matt B – Blue

Anna T – Blue


Everyone did extremely well on their individual test and as a result they made the entire Clarion MMA academy look good.  However, I want to point out two people in particular who stood out, Rob and Anna.  While they seem to be opposites in every way, they were both very impressive during their tests.

First is Rob.  With about forty years of wrestling as a background he started his jiu jitsu journey as an experienced grappler.  Then he went on to prove that it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks 😉  He refused to rely on his wrestling and instead embraced the jiu jitsu techniques that would allow him to evolve into having a well-rounded game.

The dedication, natural ability and work ethic that helped him become an All-American Division 1 wrestler are exactly the same traits he applied to help him score the highest out of the all the people testing.

Next is Anna.  To most people it will seem that she got her blue belt extremely fast, she has only been attending Clarion MMA for about seven months.  People that attend class twice a week would have only seen her for about three hours per week, not near enough for a blue belt in seven months.  However, what nobody sees is how many hours per week she actually puts in on the mat; nobody sees it because literally nobody else is there enough to see all of the work she does.  She is regularly in the kidjitsu classes, the advanced kidjitsu classes, judo classes, adult jiu jitsu classes plus at least three private classes every week!  She is on the mat over 50 hours per month.  To put that in perspective, someone that regularly attends the adult jiu jitsu twice a week puts in three hours per week, about 12 – 15 hours per month depending on the month.

The moral of the story is, it’s about time.  Looking at getting a blue belt as an example, it’s largely about the number of hours on the mat.  The average time frame is about two years from white to blue.  Some people stretch that out over five years, some people cram it into one, but they are all spending roughly the same total amount of time on the mat. With dedication we can all reach our goals if we keep working at it.  I think that this video sums it up perfectly:  Click here for video
If you would like to read more about my thoughts on belt promotions, click here.

Can Day – May 20th, 2017

We have tried many different fundraising options but none have been near as successful as the kids standing in front of Walmart asking for change.  This is not my favorite way to go about raising funds but based on the past results this is definitely worth the effort.

So, on Saturday the 20th, we will be back at it.  I am asking for all kids that are able to do so to pitch in and join us.  If you appreciate what Clarion MMA does for you and your family please consider helping out with this important event that will help us grow and improve our school.

There will be an adult present all day; well behaved children may be dropped off, no need for you to hang out with them if you don’t want to.  Even though it may be hot a Gi is the preferred attire for this.  The uniform is what will set us apart from other groups and helps attract attention.

We will be out there from 9am to 7pm with multiple people at each door.  Let us know what time you can be there.  Thanks for your help and support!

If you want to know why we are fundraising, read on.

When I was in high school I took a karate class.  We didn’t have a lot a money and I’m sure sacrifices were made so that I could attend.  Things like going to a seminar or driving to an expensive tournament were out of the question.  It was okay, I was grateful for what I had and I knew that there would be a chance to help kids like me in the future.

At Clarion MMA I have done everything in my power to make sure I am helping the next generation of martial artists and leaders.  Our rates are ridiculously low.  Our most expensive option, unlimited membership, is only $45 per month.  I want our classes to be attainable for everyone.

However, I know in certain circumstances any amount is too much.  That is where the boosters club comes to pick up the slack.  It is our way to cover some of the extra expenses that may not fit into everyone’s budget.  In the past the boosters club has bought gis for students, paid for tournaments, youth seminars, and monthly memberships.  If the need ever arises, let us know and we will be there for you.

Please take note, the monthly membership help is for a kid when their parent loses a job or a college student working their way through school and can’t otherwise afford classes.  This is not for the folks that choose to regularly eat out at restaurants and visit the drive-through on the way to Clarion MMA and then tell me they are out of money.  Also, if your monthly “party” budget is more than our monthly rates, you do not qualify as poor college student.

Sometimes the boosters club also covers upgrades to the academy.  Our current monthly dues are enough to cover the bills, but not enough to add to the academy.  In the past we have relied on the boosters club for new mats, training dummies and other equipment.

This year we plan to continue offering the same opportunities for everyone, we also hope to put in a shower for our members and we would like to get enough support to once again offer a free seminar for the youth.

Weight Cutting

A couple of times each year somebody asks about cutting weight.  I finally decided to write out my recipe for it and some of the reasoning behind it.  I know I could have made this into a short chart of simple directions, but I want the people that use this to read the full thing and understand not just the “how” but also the “why” and the dangers too.  I understand this is long and a lot of words.  If you are committing to this then you owe it to yourself to be fully informed!

The primary goal is to go from your starting weight to your target weight.  Ideally you lose half the weight over time and cut the remainder at the last minute.  Let’s assume you are starting at 200 pounds with the goal of weighing-in for an event at 175 pounds.  The weigh-in will be Friday night for a Saturday event.  The first step is to lose weight, the second step is to cut weight.  I define these two actions differently.  Weight loss is accomplished through diet and exercise over time.  Weight cutting is done at the last minute to shed water weight just long enough to step on the scale.  As soon as you drink water this weight will come back, it is not real weight loss!

If you are reading this for your child, please stop here.  This is not recommended for kids.  I am also against long term dieting for kids that are trying to reach a weight class that is not natural for their bodies.  I feel this has far reaching effects on their growth and development.

Also, I caution against dehydration for combat sports that have a high risk of concussions.  Current research is seeing a relationship between dehydration and severe concussions.

For our example we will start at 200 pounds with a weigh in goal of 175.  With the starting weight of 200 I would suggest losing weight to reach 185.  For this I have always focused on Cardio, Carbs, & Calories; more of the first, less of the other two.  This is real weight loss that has the added benefit of increasing your cardio for the event that you are training for.  This is difficult and requires commitment, therefore it is often the part that is skipped.  If that is the case the goal of 175 is unrealistic.  If you can’t actually lose some weight then you will need to settle for maybe weighing in at 185.  Once you have reached as far as you can with weight loss it is time for the cut.  Plan on only being able to cut five to eight percent of your body weight.  Someone that is 200 pounds will be able to shed more water than someone starting at 160.

Other than cutting water weight I have always had two secondary goals with a weight cut.  The first is to hit the target weight for the shortest amount of time possible; reach the goal, get on the scale, rehydrate.  Your body does not want to be dehydrated for an extended period of time.  My other goal is to do no cardio to finish the cut.  I don’t want to be dehydrated and tired.  Any energy in my body is to be saved for the event, I don’t want it spent making weight.

Please keep in mind I am not a doctor and everything here is just a list of things I have done.  If you decide to do any of this it is at your own risk.  Also, please let a friend know what you are doing in case anything goes wrong and you need help.

The cutting process begins on Monday, but not the way most people expect.  On Monday and Tuesday I add an extra gallon of water to my daily intake.  On Wednesday this is increased to two gallons.  Thursday is back to one gallon that must be consumed by 3 pm.  Drinking all of this extra water introduces the first danger of the week, hyponatremia.  If you consume too much water, too fast, without also increasing your salt intake it can lead to serious, and sometimes fatal, consequences.  Also note, this added salt and water will make mid-week weigh-ins useless.  Get on the scale on Monday and trust the system for the rest of the week.  I suggest doing a test cut a month before the event to put your mind at ease and know what is possible for your body.

The theory behind the extra water is that it triggers your body to urinate more and this will carry through even after you stop drinking.  Whether this is true or not doesn’t matter to me.  The benefits of being so well hydrated the week leading to an important event are numerous, there is no reason not to do this part.

Your diet on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is normal, with the addition of extra sodium (salt).  You want to have the fuel to continue training so you need to continue eating.  The time for dieting has passed, this week is all about water weight.

On Thursday your diet changes to food that will pass easily through your system.  You also need to cut sodium from your diet starting Thursday morning.  If you eat bananas this is the day to do it, the added potassium will help flush out excess sodium your body is holding on to.  If you eat yogurt this is a good day for that too.  From morning until 3pm, consume one gallon of water and unlimited yogurt and bananas.  At three o’clock you are done eating and drinking until Friday night.  The only exception is an optional laxative before bed on Thursday.

When you wake up Friday morning you should be within a few pounds of your target weight.  If you are addicted to caffeine you should take a caffeine pill or two.  You can’t drink a coffee or energy drink and don’t want to suffer through the day with a caffeine headache.

Now it’s time for an epsom salt bath.  This will draw the remaining excess water from your body.  This should be miserable if done correctly.  Follow these steps in order.  As a general rule when making your bath plan you should add one step from the list for each pound you need to lose:

Make the water as hot as you can possibly stand it.  There will be parts of you not submerged in the water, cover these parts with towels soaked in the bath water.  Spend 20 minutes in the water.

1.  Add one pound of epsom salt to the bath water before getting in.

2.  Block any fresh (cool) air from entering the room.  Usually this just means rolling up a towel and putting it under the door.

3.  Add a space heater to the room.  Obviously make sure you don’t electrocute yourself in the bath with it.

4.  Bring in a sleeping bag or lots of blankets (don’t let the heater catch them on fire!).  After your 20 minutes in the bath get out and immediately into a cocoon of blankets.  You should continue sweating during this period.

5.  Twenty minutes in the water, ten in the cocoon, twenty in the water.

6.  Spend the entire bath scraping sweat off of your body with a credit card.  Expose an arm, scrape the sweat off, watch new sweat appear, repeat.


If you are desperate for a couple more shortcuts these can help for an extra pound or so.

–  Spit.  This is best accomplished with a thirst quenching gum sold for runners.  It causes you to create saliva and then you simply spit it out.  In a pinch try regular gum.

–  If you have not already pooped on Friday morning an enema will get the job done.  The directions are on the package.  They are about a dollar and found in the pharmacy near the epsom salt.

–  Albolene or Sweet Sweat are two products (a little bit pricey though) that help your body produce sweat.  You can apply these to your body and sleep in sweat clothes Thursday night.

Belts and Medals

Coming up in April we will have two very different opportunities for some of our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu students, there will be both a tournament and a belt test.  I hope that I can clear up the difference between the two, and why there is a difference.

When Hillary and I started our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey we didn’t see much distinction between competition and promotions.  We figured if you were good you could win a tournament and that also meant you were good enough to get promoted.

Now that we are further along in our journeys we have a clearer picture of what our instructors already knew.  Obviously there is a difference between a medal and a belt, additionally there is also a difference in what it takes to earn either a medal or a new belt.

For example, if you take a very good wrestler and teach him three submissions he would probably be able to go to a tournament and do very well.  He would wrestle his way into a position to apply one submission and very likely win.  This would certainly earn him a medal for placing at the tournament.  However, his knowledge of three submissions would not be enough to earn him a blue belt in jiu jitsu.

As another example, there may be a student that regularly attends class, he has learned the techniques and is a great partner to everyone he trains with.  When he goes to a tournament he gets very nervous and doesn’t perform to the best of his ability.  Also, his style of working from the bottom position often gets him in trouble with fast, aggressive people.  His knowledge of the technique is not erased by his poor tournament results, therefore, he would be a likely candidate for a blue belt but not a medal at the tournament.

Also, it happens at every tournament that someone gets paired with an opponent of a different belt color.  If the lower belt wins and gets the medal they often feel like they deserve a new belt too.  They forget to take into account factors such as age or weight and the key fact that their particular style matched up favorably against their opponent.  While they definitely deserve the medal they earned, they didn’t earn a new belt with that one victory.  A medal is determined by your performance on a particular day, your belt is earned over time.

We must also remember that there is some similarity to college degrees and martial arts belts.  If you get a degree in one subject you can not simply walk into another department and instantly get a new degree.  You may be able to skip the general courses and get the degree faster, but it will not be automatic.  Also, even if someone has done the course work at one university they will not automatically get to transfer those credits and instantly get a degree from another school.

At a tournament the person that wins gets the medal.  The tournament organizer doesn’t care about anything past the time frame of the match.  An instructor, however, puts more weight into the decision about who they promote, each belt they award is a continuation of their lineage and their teachings.  The belt represents an understanding of the technique, history and to some degree the instructor’s philosophies on the art.

For the most part as people progress they will receive both medals and belts.  Just remember, getting one means you are on the right track for the other, but doesn’t necessarily mean you are there yet.

86,400 Seconds.

Recently I met an astronaut. He has multiple advanced degrees and has flown on a shuttle mission into space. I realized he had something in common with all of the great people I have ever met, whether they were Olympians, artists, world champion fighters, or generals in the military, they all had twenty four hours in their days. They were each granted the same 86,400 seconds that we all have each day, but they used theirs to shape their dreams.

I’m sure you are like the rest of us and feel like there just isn’t enough time in the day. So, how are you spending your 86,400 seconds? How many of those seconds are wasted working to make someone else’s dream come true, but not your own? How much time is wasted staring at your phone?

I know it’s easy to make excuses and call them reasons. I know that a body at rest tends to stay at rest, but it’s about time to make a change. We make time for what is important to us. You can lie to yourself and say that’s not what you are doing, but you are the one in charge of spending your time. How you spend those seconds is the clearest indication of where your priorities actually are, you make time for what is important to you.

Every successful person you have ever met has had to juggle work, family, school, money, relationships, exercise, and sleep. They all did it in the same 86,400 seconds you have. There is nothing more fair or cruel in our lives. Regardless of your age, race, sex, wealth or geography, we are all blessed with the same amount of time every day. How you spend it is up to you.

It’s not about having time, it’s about making time.

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