Why did you start BJJ?

Mostly to counteract the fact that I was spending all my time studying for my graduate degree and had become quite sedentary. After running a couple marathons, I decided to investigate martial arts, thinking they would keep my interest long-term, and I found BJJ—or it found me—at the school where I had started muay Thai. Once I did my first hip escape, I was a goner.

How long ago?

1998

What are the 3 most important things BJJ has taught you?

  • Pushing myself out of my comfort zone is essential for me to grow as a person.
  • I can learn something from anyone and everyone, if I allow myself to.
  • What is really important to me: my relationships, integrity (my own and others’), and being present in the here and now.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

For me, teaching jiu-jitsu is actually very selfish. I love to see the excitement in students’ faces as they grasp a concept or pull off a technique they have been practicing, and if I can play a small role in that, it makes my day. I love teaching and being part of the community at Princeton BJJ in particular, because Emily and Art have created a situation where everyone can learn together, teach and push each other, and respect one another.

What is your outside profession?

I teach university courses in educational psychology and health/fitness. I write about BJJ for various publications, and I wrote a book about my experiences with jiu-jitsu, called Training Wheels: How a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Road Trip Jumpstarted My Search for a Fulfilling Life. I am also currently completing the Institute for Life Coach Training requirements to become a Board Certified Coach. I work with clients and groups to help them move past the obstacles that keep them from achieving their athletic goals and striking a healthy balance in their lives. More information about my coaching is available at my website.

Goals for the future?

To continue to improve at jiu-jitsu; at teaching, writing, and coaching; and at being a supportive and positive influence in the lives of others.

Finish this sentence: If I knew then what I know now about BJJ, I would…

…slow down and enjoy the ride a bit more instead of living so much in the future and worrying so much about the next belt or how many people I have can submit.

If you could meet anyone in the world/history, who would it be and what would you ask them?

If I could meet anyone in the world, it would be Shakespeare. As a would-be writer, I would find it educational just to be in the presence of the person who is widely accepted as the greatest wordsmith who ever lived.

What is your favorite candy/bar, and why?

Asking me to choose my favorite candy is like asking me to choose whether I like eating, sleeping, or breathing best. But if pressed, I would go for something chocolatey and peanut buttery, because the combination is delicious, synergistic, better as a team than each on its own. So, in a way, eating chocolate and peanut butter together is an important life lesson.