To YOLO or not to YOLO

So…it has been about two weeks since I announced to all of my family and friends that I was planning on selling everything I own to travel the world training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Most of the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! My family almost didn’t bat an eye and my teammates gave a congratulatory ovation. The sense of support has been overwhelming. Yet there were still a few detractors. Not to say there was anyone who said “You’re crazy! This will be the biggest mistake of your life.” Not even close. As I have said, everyone has been wonderfully supportive!

No, it wasn’t my dream that threw anyone off, it was simply the name I chose to call it: BJJ YOLO. When the name came to me it seemed perfectly appropriate but, as I have recently come to discover, it just doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.


Now, I have to admit, I am in the “Old Guy Jiu-Jitsu” club. At 42 I have gotten a bit of a late start. And I am completely honest when I say that I have almost no exposure to the pop-culture or media. I haven’t watched the news in close to ten years and I watch maybe 1 hour of TV per week – History channel mostly, and 4 hrs on Sundays during NFL season. So, it was a surprise to me to discover that, while I was working 60 hour weeks to raise my daughter, paying my taxes, suffering for my own failures, and earning my BJJ belts the hard way, a certain group of irresponsible, over-privileged, under-burdened kids (mainly comprised of spoiled frat boys and tween-aged pop stars) had been usurping my dream, all the while tarnishing the name of YOLO. You see, when I was paying attention to things (way back in the day) we said things like “You Only Live Once” when we were trying to gather up the courage to do daring things! A battle-cry for pushing yourself to new limits. You see, it was a statement that TOOK AWAY excuses. It meant: You can’t back down from pushing yourself past this fear because if you don’t do it now, you may never get another chance.

Well, it seems that the times have changed. That previously mentioned group of usurpers, collectively known as the “Entitlement Generation,” has been throwing around the term YOLO for the past four or five years in an attempt to REMOVE all responsibility from their careless, reckless, and irresponsible decision making. Apparently, it has become all the rage for one of these kids to shout “YOLO!” before trashing their parents car into a lake to get a cheap, quick, and (honestly) valueless thrill (or some similar shenanigans).

Man guys, I gotta tell ya. I had no idea. And let me tell you, I am certainly not one of those frat boys ruining the entire idea of “personal responsibility.” As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that there isn’t a single one of those boys that ever made it past their “no stripe” white belt phase. You see we, as BJJ players, know that the ONLY thing that gets you anything in life (as in BJJ) is putting in the work, accepting your failures as your own, and relying on the good people around you to help you (never more than you will help yourself.NoGi VertRect

Since I made my announcement I have had just a few very kind BJJ comrades tell me  that they were concerned with my choice of title for this blog/adventure. They said that they were concerned that the majority of BJJ players would dismiss me as one of those aforementioned frat boys or, worse, they would dislike me from the start simply due to the name of this blog. I have to admit, if it were not for the kindness and truly representative honesty of those guys I would have likely remained clueless to the entire situation.

Well, I have had a lot of time to think and I have talked with my coach, my teammates, and others close to me….I have really been concerned as to whether or not this whole YOLO idea is crazy or if BJJ players worldwide will hate me for using the term. But, in the end, with my coach’s advice and my teammates counsel I have decided to stick with my dream and with the term I first thought of to describe it.

You see, I come from a different generation than those frat boys. I was raised, and continue to believe, that an individual reaps what an individual sows– i.e. if you didn’t get it, there’s a damn good chance you didn’t EARN it. And, as a member of that generation I am just more than slightly annoyed that we have let our youth come to the frontier of irresponsibility that they have. I know I didn’t raise my kid that way, and I have never met a BJJ player that raised their kid that way either.

I am a Jorge Gurgel purple belt under Dustin Ware. I didn’t get here from “giving in.” I have been bruised, beaten, punched in the eye. I have had bruises that, my wife can attest, were bigger than a football. I have sweated, bled, been shin kicked in the mouth (yeah– you know who you are 🙂 ), punched the mat in frustration, laughed, cried and have “walked the gauntlet” as a reward for my dedication to being the absolute best I can be. That means never giving up, never holding someone else accountable for my failures, never letting a teammate down and NEVER letting yourself shy away from what you love because of adversity.

I don’t think that I am going to take this opportunity to give in to a bunch self-centered, spoiled, over-indulgent frat boys / tween-aged pop stars.

I first heard the term “You Only Live Once” when I was just a very young boy…long before those now befouling the term  were even born. Therefore, I conclude that it belongs to me…no US, first. It represents the idea of giving life every little bit of gusto you have. Of doing the thing that is scary, that is uncertain, all for the sake of becoming bigger and greater than you were the day before and, like all BJJ players, NEVER denying responsibilities for your own failures. This is the first, last, and only chance I will ever get to enjoy this wonderful life. It’s my YOLO and it’s my dream. They can’t have it…and likely they wouldn’t do it justice anyway.


If you can understand where I am coming from. I thank you. If you can’t support me because of the “modern, rich kid, spoiled to the bone” atmosphere that apparently surrounds the term these days, I can respect that too. But most importantly: thank you to the folks that thought enough of me to bring this to my attention. Without you taking the time to message and talk to me about this I would have had no idea. Just like in BJJ, we all want to go into a situation knowing what is going on.

Lastly: since making this decision it very often seems that I find things that seem to SCREAM out to me about life and where I am at. As if on cue, this video dropped onto my facebook.

It’s another brilliant Stuart Cooper film about BJJ. If you can just watch the first 00:01:40 of it (Cyborg and Lister) you will hear EXACTLY what my BJJ YOLO lifestyle is about. It seems perfectly fitting. I have become accustomed to misery, as Dean puts it…no more!

Oh…and those frat boys and tween-age pop stars?? Well, they are welcome to step on my mats anytime and we will see how THEIR YOLO stacks up against MY YOLO! I am pretty sure I know how that will work out.

As always, thank you for your time and I hope to see you OTM.

One thought on “To YOLO or not to YOLO

  1. It’s kind of like the spirit of Jiu Jitsu, as its been described to me. You take something and make it your own. Fit it to your personality, style, thought process. YOLO may be used by others, but you are owning it. That is, and will continue to come through in your writing. Best of luck! See you OTM.


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