Tag Archives: lex fridman

29: AnnMaria De Mars on Raising Ronda Rousey, Aggressive Judo, Math Education, and the Value of Hard Work

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In episode 29, I talk with AnnMaria De Mars about being the first American to win the Judo World Championship, raising four kids one of whom is Ronda Rousey the current UFC champion,  getting four degrees including a PhD in applied statistics, her book Winning on the Ground, her blog, her grandmother’s advice, the passing of her husband, the absurdity of sport, coaching an elite level athlete, balancing academics and sport, Ronda’s 2007 World Silver and Olympic Bronze and her matches against Edith Bosch, refusing to lose, being a woman in a combat sport, teaching kids math through computer games at 7 Generation Games, math (and hard work) as an important foundation for long-term success in life, and more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Edit: I wrote a blog post with some post-interview takeaways.

Quotes

AnnMaria on the advice her grandmother gave her:

“Do the best you can with everything you were given. She really believed that quote in the Bible: ‘To whom much is given, much is expected.'”

AnnMaria on being asked if she is afraid of death:

“No, I can think of a lot worse things than death. One of the reasons people are afraid of dying is they have regrets. They haven’t done the things they want to do. Because my husband passed away when I was young, that changed the way I thought about things. He was a great guy, worked hard his whole life. There were a lot of things he wanted to do that he never got around to doing because he always thought there would be time later. So now when I want to do something, I do it.  When I look back, I’ve had a lot of accomplishments and experiences in education, academics, I published scientific articles, I wrote a book with Jimmy Pedro Sr, I have wonderful children, so if I died right now I have no regrets. You want to live like you might die tomorrow, because you might die tomorrow.”

AnnMaria on the absurdity of dedicating years of your life to achieving a singular goal like winning a World Championship:

“You have to be smart enough to do it and dumb enough to believe it’s important.”

AnnMaria on what it takes to be successful in judo or in math or in anything:

“You get good at something by doing a lot of it.”

AnnMaria on trash talking:

“Like Dr. Seuss said, ‘Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind!'”

AnnMaria on what will go on her tombstone:

“I’m smarter than I look.”

YouTube Version

Links

28: Kayla Harrison on Winning Olympic Gold and Overcoming Trauma

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In episode 28, I talk with Kayla Harrison, first American to win Olympic gold in judo, about her training methods, visualization, competition mindset, Olympic final experience, warm-routine, Eminem and country music, overcoming a past of sexual abuse, PTSD, finding forgiveness, finding strength in judo, being coached by Jimmy Pedro, her Team Force teammates, moving up two weight classes, strength and conditioning, going to college, writing her memoir and also a book on recovering from sexual abuse, new judo rules, serving as the IJF athlete representative, and much more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Quotes

Kayla on the evolution of women’s judo:

“In 26 years (since Ann Marie DeMars became the first American world champion), we’ve seen women’s judo come a long long way. I’m very fortunate that I had pioneers like Ann Marie and Rusty Kanokogi and women like that who paved the way to allow me to pursue my dreams.”

Kayla on what was going on through her mind as she was stepping on the mat at the Olympics:

“I don’t know if I’ll ever forget that day. I was just a psycho. (Lol). I am very big on visualization. Before the Olympics even occurred I visualized that day a thousand time in my mind. I would go over it and over it and over it. And I would tell myself: ‘Kayla Harrison, Olympic Champion. This is my day. This is my purpose.’ And all that day, Jimmy (Pedro) was chirping in my head: ‘Do you want this more? Have you worked harder? No one deserves this more than you. You’re Kayla Harrison, Olympic Champion.’ “

Kayla giving credit for her success to her coaches:

“In order to be a great coach, you can’t be an athlete’s friend. He’s not afraid to make me cry. They are not afraid to light that fire, and tell me when I’m wrong. They are not afraid to push me when I need to be pushed, and pull back when I need to pull back. They don’t really care if I like them. I do, but they don’t really care either way.”

Kayla on whether fear/doubt enters her mind in competition:

“When I was younger I used to be pretty scared. I was more afraid of losing than I was willing to win. And when you’re afraid to lose, you don’t compete,  you don’t show up, you just worry about losing. Through the years, through experience, and just literally competing in every single tournament on the face of the Earth, I started to get into a habit… One of the things I’ve heard before and that I completely agree with is: ‘Success breeds success.’ When I start to win and I get on that roll, I don’t question myself, I don’t doubt myself. If you look at that video of me on the day of the Olympics, every match, even the one I was losing, I was losing my quarterfinal to a girl I’ve never beaten before, at no point did I question myself. I don’t know, I was a psycho. I thought I was going to win, and damned if I wasn’t going to go out there and do it. I trained too hard, worked too long, sacrificed too much, been away from my family too long to lose.”

Kayla talking about losing a match at the 2011 World championships:

Failure is my fuel. If you beat me, I’m going to sleep that night thinking about ripping your arm off.

YouTube Audio-Only Version

Links

24: Kyle Dake, 4x NCAA Wrestling Champion

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In episode 24, I talk with Kyle Dake, 4x NCAA champion, Dan Hodge trophy winner, and 2013 SI College Athlete of the Year, about a tradition of wrestling in his family, early wrestling days, the influence of his mom and dad, setting goals, overcoming losses early in his career, facing Jordan Burroughs, David Taylor, Andrew Howe, competing with a broken hand against a 2x world champion, Denis Tsargush, training to exhaustion, keeping the training fun, being pushed by training partners like Jordan Leen, Call of Duty, Breaking Bad, and much more.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or RSS, and check out our facebook page.

Audio Clips on YouTube

Quotes

Kyle on the mental toughness advice his mom gave him:

“Your mind will break before your body will break.”

Kyle on his approach to the intense pace of competition:

“You have to learn how to function when you’re dog-tired… when you don’t think your body is capable of doing anything more, but you have to do more. You can either cower, give up takedowns, give up points, submit to the guy, or you can do everything in your power to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Kyle on the training to exhaustion:

“Feeling that exhaustive state is very important in the practice room, because once you get on the mat and you’ve felt that pain before, you’ve felt that exhaustion, it’s a lot easier to overcome it in competition.”

Jordan Leen, Kyle’s teammate and NCAA champ out of Cornell, said the following in an ESPN commentary as Kyle was wrestling in his 2010 NCAA finals match:

“Kyle Dake refuses to accept failure at any level. He takes it personally when he gets taken down in the room. It affects his soul almost. He is a well balanced wrestler, but they key is that he has to win. According to him, he has to win. He will do anything that it took to win.”

Links

21: Justin Rader on ADCC, No Gi Worlds, Cutting Weight, Combining Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu

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In episode 21, I talk with Justin Rader, two-time no-gi world champion, 2013 ADCC bronze medalist about the training camp leading up to ADCC, cutting weight, staying injury free, listening to your body, traveling to China, training wrestling against the guard pull, Augusto Mendes, Cobrinha, Joao Miyao, Kevin Hendricks, Johny Hendricks, Andy Howington, staying in the intermediate distance while passing tricky guards, positional training,  teaching and coaching young athletes, difference between wrestling and jiu jitsu culture, MMA, Game of Thrones, Dan Gable, John Smith, Paul from Open Mat Radio, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Quotes

Justin on the weight cut for ADCC:

“I did the old school Vision Quest. I was out there the morning of weigh-ins in my plastic suit running up and down the streets of Beijing.”

Justin on the difference between the training environment in wrestling an in jiu jitsu:

“The wrestling environment can truly be summed up by ‘kill or be killed’.”

Links

Random Questions

YouTube Version of Full Audio Interview

(To be added soon. YouTube doesn’t seem to like 90+ minute videos sometimes.)

19: JT Torres on No-Gi Worlds, ADCC, Drilling, and Training at Atos

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In episode 19, I talk with JT Torres, American-born no-gi World Champion, ADCC medalist, Worlds medalist, Pans medalist. We talk about his perseverance and drive to  win the World Championships, winning the No-Gi Worlds, his bronze at ADCC, the close relationship with his dad,  his little brother, training in Maryland and San Diego, breakfast burritos, drilling, being pushed to the limit every day,  pre-tournament  routine, visualization, referee decisions, closing out a bracket with Jared Weiner, eventually moving back East, hip hop music, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Quotes

JT on his routine in the bullpen before the match:

“Before the match, I’m visualizing my hand raised over and over and over again..”

JT on winning the 2013 No-Gi World Championship:

“It felt amazing. I really hung in there these last few years. I came up short the last few times, had a few rough calls, and easily anyone in my position could’ve just packed it up and say ‘screw this I’m going to move on’ … But I never quit. There were times when I thought about it. But I never quit. Kept working hard, training hard for years, and finally got my World title and it feels amazing.”

JT on cutting weight before a tournament:

“As they say, a hungry dog fights harder.”

Links

YouTube Version

18: Ilias Iliadis Interview

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In episode 18, I talk with Ilias Iliadis. He is truly one of the legends of judo, an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, two-time world champion, and 5-time world medalist. And still only 26 years old (turning 27 two days after the interview and of course training on his birthday). We talk about his birthday two days after the interview, his son and daughter, his father and coach, starting at a young age, the 2004 Olympics,  the 2010 and 2011 world championships, Mark Huizinga, Varlam Liparteliani, Mark Anthony, winning international tournaments in four different weight classes (73kg, 81kg, 90kg, 100kg), Teddy Riner, 2013 world championships, ogoshi, seoi nage, no-gi, and more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Thank you to Teo BJJ for hosting us for the interview. And thank you to my friend Niko for helping make it all happen.

Video Version of Interview

Quotes

Ilias Iliadis on when he first thought he could be an Olympic gold medalist:

“When I was young I dreamed I could be Olympic champion. I believed it then. But it happened even faster than in my dreams.”

Ilias Iliadis on learning from a loss:

“I believe when you lose you learn. You gain experience.”

Ilias Iliadis on maintaining the edge on the best in the world:

“If you want to take the tile, you have to be training, always. When I’m training, I think of my opponent and how he is training. I want to always be training more than my opponent.”

Ilias Iliadis on there not being any one element that is most important for a throw:

“In judo, when you do a technique, you need your whole body.”

Ilias Iliadis on the uncertainty of a judo match:

“Every competition is important for me, and every competition I think I can win. But this is judo. Everybody has a chance.”

Iliad Iliadis on whether he likes the new judo rules:

“We are athletes. We can’t change anything. All we can do is fight and win.”

Links

17: Niko and Lex Talk a Little Judo

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In episode 17, I talk “a little judo” (for 90 minutes) with my comrade and judo mastermind Niko Dax. Our conversation is always full of opinions, disagreements, and Russian accents. We talk about Teddy Riner, Ilias Iliadis visit to the United States, judo in Kansas, AAU freestyle judo, being a big fish in a small pond, Nick Delpopolo, Travis Stevens, Kayla Harrison, Ole Bischof, financial support of American judoka, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Quotes

Niko on one of the many reasons Ilias Iliadis is already judo legend at the young age of 26.

“Iliadis is amazing because he has major wins in four different weight classes: at 73kg, 81kg, 90kg, and 100kg.”

Niko on the challenge of training without a nation-wide system that supports judo:

“If Travis Steven or Nick Delpopolo win a bronze medal in the next Olympic games, that medal will have much more value than a gold medal by any Russian player, because that bronze medal will be won despite (the lack of financial support).”

Niko on money and happiness:

“Money won’t buy you happiness… unless you don’t have money.”

Links

YouTube Version

16: Sebastian Brosche on BJJ, Judo, and Yoga

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In episode 16, I talk to Sebastian Brosche, a jiu jitsu competitor, judo black belt, and yoga instructor. He won double gold at Worlds in purple belt, and gold at Abu Dhabi World Pro at brown belt. We talk about his early years in judo, the support of his mom,  Olympic gold, street fights, adopting his judo for jiu jitsu, training at Frontline in Oslo Norway, improvising, exploring, failing, breathing, ego, yoga, guard passing, open guard vs inverted guard, stabilizing position, dealing with negative energy, Jackson Souza, Joao Miyao, Kit Dale, Abu Dhabi World Pro, IBJJF Worlds double gold, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Check out Sebastian’s awesome Yoga for BJJ wesbite.

Quotes

Sebastian on BJJ:

“That’s BJJ: we keep what works and we leave what doesn’t.”

Sebastian on the things BJJ guys can learn from judo:

“The two most important things we can take from judo to bjj are… Number one is grips. Knowing what a good grip is and what a bad grip is. And what I tell beginners is: a good grip is one you can pull and push without changing the grip… With a good grip you can start moving, and then you don’t have to have Olympic-level throwing and still accomplish what you need in a BJJ fight. So number one is gripping, number two is base for movement. You need to know how to move your feet, how to judo-dance, and make the guy move. Because you can’t just stand in a fight with a grip and wait for the guy to put his foot forward, you have to make him do it.”

Sebastian on the value of recording your matches:

“The video camera is one of your best friends because it is honest. And if the guy who’s filming is not shaking the camera and you can actually see what you’re doing, you can learn so much from watching your own fights.”

Sebastian on his approach to yoga:

“We try to balance between strength and length, and between working hard and letting go. In the middle, we find out who we are.”

Links

Video Clips

YouTube Version

15: Jooyoung Lee on Gunshot Victims, Near-Death Experience, Popping, and Swimming

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In episode 15, Tim Carpenter and I talk to Jooyoung Lee, an assistant professor of sociology at University of Toronto, purple belt in BJJ, pop-locker, and former D1 swimmer. We talk about his 2 years in Philadelphia studying gunshot victims, 5 years in California studying hip hop artists in search of fame, the positive and negative changes after a near-death experience, the shame of disfigurement, gun violence in society, Donohue Levitt hypothesis, popping, locking, Tick a Lott, swimming, squeaky dog toys, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Quotes

Jooyoung on interviewing victims of gun violence:

“If you ask questions that begin with ‘How’ you get a long story. But if you ask questions with ‘Why’ you usually get a short response that’s almost moralistic. People want to give you a good reason, instead of telling you the story.”

Tim on what drives him:

“There’s times you’ll do stuff that’s against your nature because it’ll make you some money, but overall I’ve never lost sight of who I was.  I never tried to get famous. That was never a goal. I like helping people. I like seeing improvement, in myself and in other people. It’s cool to make money but it’s not what drives me.”

Jooyoung recollecting on an old conversation about why jiu jitsu is a fascinating sport:

“Jiu jitsu is a weird sport because you train until the point that you could kill somebody or seriously maim them, and then you tap and you shake hands and you start over.”

Tim on jiu jitsu as a source of the much-needed sense of danger:

“Living today, there’s no real threat. There’s not a threat of death really anywhere unless you live in one of the horrible areas where there’s gunshots all the time. Just a normal person walking around doesn’t have to worry about death. That’s one of the things that gets people into doing jiu jitsu is you get a taste of danger.”

Links

YouTube Version

14: James Vincent on Police Work, Survival, and Always Having a Plan

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take-it-uneasy-james-chiarielloIn episode 14, Josh Vogel and I talk to James Vincent, a BJJ black belt and a police officer,  about police work, Survivorman Les Stroud, Ray Mears, MovNat, Exuberant Animal, gun control, fear vs panic, little guy jiu jitsu, Norwegian heavy water sabotage, boredom, survival as a choice and as a necessity, hiking, climbing trees, kettlebells, CrossFit, the rule of threes, rotisserie chicken, and much more.

Subscribe on iTunes or RSS, and check out the facebook page.

Video Clips

Quotes

James on fear vs panic in police work:

“You can work with fear, it’s when you panic… If you panic, that’s going to cloud your judgement, and that could get your hurt. It’s okay to have fear, and still be working with that fear, knowing that you have a job to do: you have to accomplish the goal at hand.”

Josh on the importance of respecting nature:

“You can’t say ‘f*** the fridge’ and still expect to get food out of it.”

Josh on your technique being a reflection of who you are physically and mentally:

“You can’t isolate somebody’s technique from their natural attributes… You have your techniques, and you have your attributes that hopefully support those techniques.”

Links

YouTube Version