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Jiu-Jitsu Highlights Personal Growth Opportunities

Ever had things you already knew to be true confirmed at the expense of your ego? You know, like failing a math test when you already knew you sucked at math. Or looking like a nervous wreck while trying to give a presentation, knowing full-well that public speaking isn’t your jam?

To a lesser extent, in my second jiu-jitsu class last night, some of my shortcomings, which weren’t news to me, were highlighted. Not highlighted by people pointing and laughing, or being publicly called out in any fashion; rather, well aware of weak areas in my life, these personal limitations are accentuated in jiu-jitsu in such a way that I want them to be under the microscope; I want to embrace them; and I want to improve them. Because of these desires for awareness, acceptance, and betterment of my deficiencies, jiu-jitsu is showing itself to be an excellent vehicle for self-improvement.


Jiu-jitsu, at least the way it’s being taught to me, is stressing two broad areas in my life that need a…
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First Jiu-Jitsu Class

In the past, I've found a way to do a thing -- let’s say, stack firewood. And that way worked. Perhaps it wasn't the most efficient way to stack firewood but the result was good. The means, however, were predicated on will, effort, and/ or strength -- whatever the task called for.

Unfortunately, I spent little time developing a better system for work; a more efficient means to the end. The wood got stacked well and that was enough to feel proud of a task well done. The means may have exhausted me, but I felt pride from that relatively thoughtless exertion.

For me, therein lies the problem: I could have been more thoughtful, thus more efficient. Perhaps with some planning, I could have used less energy to achieve the same, or better, result. And isn’t that a good idea? Achieving a desired goal in as efficient a manner as possible?

After my first jiu-jitsu class, that idea of using less energy, a more efficient means, to reach the desired objective, was really driven home. What…

New to playing cigar box guitar? Start with Shane Speal's beginner lesson

Shane Speal -- the driving force behind the modern cigar box guitar movement -- got called out on his video lessons... they weren't basic enough!

So Shane responded with this 6:33 minute video...
How to Play Cigar Box Guitar - The very BEGINNING lesson!

In this lesson, geared towards the absolute beginner, you'll learn:

 How to hold a pick Slideshow to fit to your fingerwhich finger to use How to play with a slidedon't mash the stringshold right over the fret Quick lick (to get you playing right away) Picking handstrumming pattern for quick lick

With great close-ups on both the slide and picking hands, and essential basic playing tips, this beginner lesson gives you the tools to find immediate success playing your cigar box guitar.

What's your favorite beginner cigar box guitar lesson?

Serving the Homeless: A Lesson in Dignity

At the end of December 2017 and beginning of January 2018, some of the coldest temperatures on record in my hometown threatened the lives of the homeless. The thought of anyone suffering through dangerous weather breaks my heart. Perhaps my ego crafts a flawed story of unfortunate souls who may not ask for, but are in need of, help. Perhaps the plight of winter homelessness clouds my judgement as someone shuffles by me on the sidewalk on his way to God knows where in ruthless winter weather. My pity, it seems, is not in short supply. Knowing that I cannot turn my head away from someone else suffering, I joined local efforts to support the homeless during that deathly cold weather, and in those volunteer experiences learned that of the things the homeless need, pity isn’t one. Rather, I learned if there’s something homeless men and women need, other than support to survive, it’s to be treated with dignity.

Social discomfort you can relate to (and perhaps should overcome)

How do you feel in a room filled mostly with people you don't know, and only a few whom you barely do? Do you fit right in, comfortably moving from person to person, enthusiastically engaging in various conversations? Or do you feel like shrinking into a corner, stealthily passing along a well like a ninja on your way to sneaking out the door? More often than not, I feel like the ninja, just not as cool.
Social discomfort in large groups
Large groups of relative strangers intimidate me. Being someone who enjoys quiet and solitude and slow, drawn out productions, the contrast in busy, chaotic environments densely packed with bodies sets me on edge. I clench my jaws shut (so much so that at the end of such an event my jaws are tired or sometimes hurt) making flapping my gums exceptionally difficult, and in an especially loud room I lose nearly all ability to communicate. If asked a question, I can barely form a sentence in response. Yet, in a room with just a few people where the v…

Storm Brings More Than Snow To Rochester Community

It's the first snow-storm of autumn 2017 and I'll be damned if I don't go out walking in it because there's nothing like being outdoors in New England in falling snow. All these old towns in the northeast, at least the ones such as Rochester that have held onto the 100 year-old neighborhoods and streets with their leaning barns, stoic New Englander-homes, stone walls, and downtowns that, if they haven’t been ruined by the race towards box stores and drive-thru convenience, are built on mom and pop shops and other independent, family-owned businesses.

It's not even winter yet. There's still another two weeks left to autumn. Yet the snow doesn't care about the calendar; it's going to fall regardless. And this first significant snowfall of autumn for our little city of Rochester has the same effect as all first snowstorms: everything and everyone hunkers down, pulling knit caps over ears, wrapping scarves around necks, and craning heads downwards while aw…

Will Jerome Graille revolutionize cigar box guitars?

Is a cigar box guitar destined to play only the blues?

What exactly can you play on a cigar box guitar?

In this post you get 6 different videos showing how one man is changing the way cigar box guitars are perceived, and revolutionizing how they are played.