NSJ Sharehouse – My experience

UPDATE: Maybe 3 or 4 days ago I moved into a different NSJ Sharehouse and so far it’s better. I like my room better, it’s less noisy and my annoying neighbor is gone which is the biggest perk.

Original post…

I have been living in this place for about 2 weeks and honestly I think it’s a piece of shit. I was planning on writing a review later, but this just triggered it. It’s 2:32 am and I am up because I can’t sleep.

2 out of the last 3 nights I have been listening to my neighbor go in and out of his room at 1, 2 and 3 am. When he shuts his door it sounds like he is shutting my door.

This place is very fragile. It’s like I could jump through the wall.

I do yoga in the morning and vibrate my legs on my mat and when I do that the whole house shakes.

I can hear my neighbor through the wall talking to himself. I can hear him push the button to turn on his heat. I am surprised that it is still standing. The wall between us is more like a curtain and I am surprised that this place hasn’t been destroyed by a typhoon or earthquake.

It’s not made out of cement. It probably is thin wood framing with thin walls, but nothing like 2×4’s. It’s really wimpy and COLD because it’s not insulated.

Even the shower water doesn’t get that hot. It gets kinda hot, but not that hot so you end up spending a longer time in the shower.

Supposedly someone cleans the place too for a discount, but they don’t do a very good job. Well, the surfaces are clean enough, but the toilets aren’t cleaned.

It’s cheap and well you get what you pay for.

I am the oldest one living here. There’s like a kid living next to me who is still in college.

Wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for my neighbor. But it’s like you have pseudo privacy. I have turntables and do some music and other creative stuff and just feel that is unsuitable in this house.

Oh yeah the other thing that she said before I came when I was asking about how soundproof one of the rooms was something like, “if you want soundproofing then maybe Japan is not for you”.

Like all houses in Japan are like this one???

Not.

Maybe if you read this you might find the place to be o.k. for you, but don’t expect much. Expect something like a dormitory room hostel with curtains between the rooms. Remember you get what you pay for.

It’s on the cheaper end, but actually it should be cheaper considering the quality of the place. And from what I have heard from other people living in Fukuoka it’s not that cheap. I have lived in a lot of places across the USA, Taiwan, China, Korea and now this crappy place.

Honestly I don’t really have anything good to say about this place. There’s other people and well I don’t really give a fuck. I’d rather live alone and have a more simple life instead of living with random people and neighbors that complicate your life.

Training jiu-jitsu at my new dojo in Fukuoka, Japan

So I have been in Fukuoka, Japan for a few weeks training jiu-jitsu and learning Japanese. It’s going good.

I started training at a new dojo called Axis jiu-jitsu Fukuoka. It’s a nice small space near Ohori park in Fukuoka.

It’s fun training at a new place too.

I chose this place basically cause it was the closest place to where I live which is like 7km away and the owner let me train there on my first day for free.

Before that I went to a couple of other places in the city to check them out.

The first place said there was no free class and that it would be 2,000 Yen which is about $20 and if I wanted to train for a month then it would be 20,000 Yen.

What?!

I had already done some research on places around Fukuoka and knew a few were around 10,000 Yen a month which is about $100.

I went to the next place and they seemed more friendly. They didn’t invite me for a free class, but said it was 10,800 Yen.

I was thinking that maybe things in Japan were different with no free first class.

So then I was thinking of going to another place, but just decided to go to Axis jiu-jitsu since that was closer anyway. When I did the teacher Kanda invited me to the mat when I walked in the door for free.

So after class I rode my bike home and pretty much decided that was where I was going to train at. And that’s where I am now.

Some customs remind me of my first school in San Fran, Romulo Melo as everyone seems to shake hands when they greet each other on the mat.

Maybe that is a Gracie thing I don’t know.

It’s nice to be able to train everyday too. I hurt my knee, but other than that the vibe seems mostly pretty relaxed too.

More on Axis jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka.

2 Jiu-jitsu Moves NOT To Do

These 2 jiu-jitsu moves are dangerous and I do not recommend doing them. Both of them are illegal in judo and they are also illegal in some situations, competitions or belt colors in BJJ.

I have received a knee injury from both of these moves and you will see one of them in the video below.

I can tell you that you will not want to be on the receiving end of one of these moves gone wrong.

It’s not that they always cause injury, but it’s that they often enough cause injury and when they do it’s often serious.

  1. Kani basami (scissors throw)
  2. Jumping guard

#1 Kani basami (scissors throw)

When I lived in San Fran there was one purple belt there that did this to me. I didn’t get an injury, but it was close enough and very sketchy feeling.

Then like 4 days ago or so I was sparring with a new classmate here in Fukuoka standing up trying some throws when the next thing I know my knee turns in and I feel it pop.

I hit the ground and I am in pain. My opponent was around 220 I’d guess and tried a scissors throw, but I didn’t know that until I saw the video.

It’s dangerous and not worth it. You can see how my knee looks in the video above. Fortunately it could have been worse. I don’t know what happened to it, but I would guess that it is was a minor MCL tear or it just got stretched.

Minor MCL injuries usually heal on their own. I got one in my other knee like 20 years ago snowboarding.

Don’t do it.

Oh, and it’s NOT just me.

If you want to see more injuries from this move then do a search for:

  • kani basami injury
  • kani basami gone wrong

#2 Jumping guard

I personally think jumping guard is kind of a woos move…

And of course I think that now because I got hurt from it. And well anyone that does judo probably also thinks that.

You would never do this in a street fight, probably never if you are smart. And you don’t ever see this in the MMA.

Why not?

Because if you do you are going to get slammed into the ground and punched in the face.

Now it’s a move that’s relatively easy to do, but it’s dangerous.

Here’s what happened to me back in 2016 or so.

I used to go to CCSF in San Fran for judo and jiu-jitsu classes. That day we were doing judo competition practice where you bow, step in, bow and then start going for the throw.

But this guy also weighed well over 200 pounds decided to jump guard which is something you can’t do in judo anyways.

My mistake my not so compassionate teacher said, haha was I was going backward. And I wasn’t on my toes.

So he jumps guard and lands on my knee. He never made it to my waist. It hyper extended my knee backwards. If you weigh 50 pounds more than your opponent you definitely don’t jump guard.

It was really painful and the MRI said I had a bone bruise and a torn meniscus.

I was out for 2 months.

Now…

This is not only me.

Do a search for:

  • jumping guard injury
  • jumping guard gone wrong

And you will see some nasty looking injuries like the one in my video above.

Last words

You have to consider your training partner. You can’t just do a “hail mary” move and hope that it will work out because your partner is going to suffer like I did.

Do you want someone to do that to you?

If you’re a big guy or just bigger than your partner then you need to respect the difference.

It’s possible to do these moves correctly so that you do not hurt your opponent, BUT how often do you do moves 100% perfect?

Let’s say you are good at arm bars from the mount and you do one 90% perfect and smooth, but you hit the guy in his head when you bring your leg over his head.

That’s no big deal because your partner might just get a bump or bruise.

For that move.

But for these moves if you are just a little bit off and/or your opponents position is too then that can lead to a terrible knee injury.

Don’t bother with either. There are plenty of throws and take downs out there to learn.

More on training at my new school in Fukuoka.

How I am living cheaply in Fukuoka, Japan

I originally put this post about living in Japan cheaply on my other blog ESLinsider. Here is the post…

How I am living cheaply in Japan

I just moved to Fukuoka, Japan about 5 days ago. I have wanted to live here for quite a long time. Finally, I made it. One of the things that kept me out of Japan was the fact that I thought it was so expensive.

I think that is what most people think, right?

Well, I think it can be, but it’s not that expensive for me as at the moment  I would say that I am paying about $7-800 a month to live here.

My rent

I am living in what is called a sharehouse. I basically share a kitchen and bathroom with 8 other people and have my own room. That costs about 30,000 Yen a month plus 12,000 for utilities which is about $380.

I saw other places in Japan that were close to that price, but without a long term visa most places won’t rent to you. Many also want you to have a Japanese friend to act as a guarantor. There can also be a lot of fees: like a cleaning fee, key money, guarantor fee, deposits, and you sign a contract for a year.

I had to pay a deposit of 30,000, but only signed a contract for 6 months.

It’s pretty wimpy construction, but it’s alright for now.

If you are interested you can find these online by searching:

(insert city name here) sharehouse

Food

Some things seem a little cheaper and others not so much. Eggs are less than $2, milk is also less than $2 a litre, vegetables vary, The only thing I noticed that was a bit more expensive that I usually eat was sweet potatoes. They were like a few dollars more expensive for a lesser quantity.

I haven’t seen much of a selection for cheese which was expected as that was the same in other places I lived in Asia.

I am estimating that my bills will be similar to before in San Fran or maybe a little less.

I have been making a lot of soups with miso or soba noodles.

Transportation

I got this great bike so my transportation is free. I paid 6,800 Yen for this bike. I have been using it quite a bit as most things I need to get to are far. It’s about 7 kilometers to jiu-jitsu and a similar amount or more to get to the center of Fukuoka (Tenjin or Hakata).

Japanese lessons

I feel pretty excited to have found some lessons that are nearly free. The city government has a volunteer program at different government buildings throughout the city. These classes are like a $1 a class or $5 a month or maybe $10 for 6 months of lessons (usually one day a week), but there are classes everyday of the week in different locations.

At this point I am trying to match up my schedule so I can take the classes near or around the same time that I do jiu-jitsu.

Jiu-jitsu lessons

They are cheaper than in the States. The cost at the place where I am planning on going to is 10,800 a month which is about $100.

How long will I stay in Fukuoka?

As of right now I am on a tourist visa. I can stay here for 3 months and then I have to leave. I will probably just take a short trip to Busan, Korea where I used to live and come back for another 3 months.

Then I will have to decide if I want to stay in Japan for longer. If I do want to stay in Japan for longer then I will probably need to change my visa status. To do that I would need a different visa. Some of the ideas I have are:

  1. Apply for a cultural visa
  2. Find a job teaching English in Japan

The cultural visa is more appealing to me as I may be able to get that by studying judo, but I have not found anywhere to do that in Fukuoka. You’d think it would be easy to do, but not so.

There are lots of places for jiu-jitsu in Fukuoka, but the “BJJ” community on Reddit doesn’t think I could since “Brazilian” jiu-jitsu and Japanese jiu-jitsu are considered a bit different. Brazilian jiu-jitsu evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu and emphasizes grappling on the ground and competition.

But I am still planning on asking my teacher about it after I have been training there a while.

As far as teaching English goes I have sort of been there and done that in China, Korea and Taiwan. Lately ESLinsider has been doing well and I have been able to live off of it. However, if something changes then I may need to get a job or perhaps a part time job that would give me a visa.

On my way to Fukuoka, Japan

I left San Francisco yesterday after living there for almost 6 years. Time flies and now I am sitting in the Taipei airport waiting for a connecting flight to Fukuoka.

My last few days was spent trying to get rid of stuff and get ready for my trip.

It always seems last minute when it comes to traveling.

So…

I will be living there for probably at least 6 months. For starters I will be on a tourist visa, but then may try to get a cultural visa for studying judo or maybe, just maybe look for a job teaching English in Japan so I could get a longer visa.

My goals are to live in Japan, learn Japanese, train judo/jiu-jitsu, work on ESLinsider and some other creative projects.

ESLinsider has been able to sustain me over the last 6 months or so. Hopefully that will keep up and then there is always WWOOF’ing if that fails.

Every time I move my stuff that makes me question how much I need it. My DJ stuff is really heavy. I brought with me 2 cases that have my turntables in them. They weigh 40 lbs each.

I’d like to do a street performing show with my turntables, but that is tricky thinking how I will move it around.

Actually that is less tricky. I have some ideas for making a cart for them, but the trickier part is where am I going to keep it? I would need to live on the ground level and be able to wheel it into my home.

In another hour or so, boarding starts.

Haven’t slept much in the last 3 days. Hopefully tonight I will.

It’s hard to change your habits and make a move. But really it is not as hard as it seems because now I am on my way. This move all started with me buying a ticket and then filling in the blanks.

It started in a state of uncertainty.

It’s more of a shoot first aim later strategy.

So I am still aiming, but I think I am off to a good start. I have a room in a share house all lined up and will be paying less for rent than I did in San Fran.

And it can’t be much worse than that.

My desire to live in Japan started way back before I taught English in Taiwan in 2004. I sort of beat around the bush and lived in China, Korea and Taiwan and now finally I am going to Japan.

It won’t be the first time there, but it will be the first time to live there.

Japan was originally my first choice for Asia, but it didn’t seem as easy to get a job there teaching English so I always went with the other countries.

Now after years of hearing that voice in my head say, “go to Japan” I am.

I couldn’t go on not doing this. I didn’t want to be an old man saying to myself, “I didn’t, I should’ve, I could’ve…”

A low impact full body workout exercise

This is a modified version of the mountain climber exercise. Basically instead of jumping with sneakers you slide with socks and this makes it more of a low impact body weight exercise.

I use a pair of socks and do it on my yoga mat. But it might also work on another kind of slippery floor.

I think to get the most out of it you should sprint at some point or go as fast as you can. Of course if it is your first time then you can go a little slower.

What I do is often a 10-20 count at a medium pace and then go as fast as I can for 10-20 seconds.

If you do that you will get your heart rate up there and be breathing hard.

Then take a break until your breath calms down.

Then do it again.

And again.

As of recent when I do this I’ll often do at least 3 sets. But before this video I did 5 or 6 sets.

There are many different ways that you could use this exercise.

Here is a suggested workout with this exercise:

  1. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.
  2. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.
  3. 10-20 seconds medium pace, 10 second sprint as fast as you can. Rest for 40 seconds.

Of course you can modify this by doing more sets or longer sprints, etc.

You can also add this to your body weight workout. It also works as a good warm up. Very quickly you can get your heart rate pumping and be out of breath if you do it fast enough.

It will work many muscles in your body including arms, shoulders, core, quads, hip abductors and glutes.

I think it’s a good all around low impact exercise that works many different muscle groups and brings some of the benefits of sprinting.

Benefits of sprinting:

1. Save time
2. Improve cardiovascular health
3. Strengthen muscles
4. Improve muscle tone
5. Reduce stress
6. Improve speed and power

The con of sprinting by running is that it is hard on your joints. So a low impact way of sprinting is by doing this exercise.

I found it to be a low impact exercise for my legs. It doesn’t irritate my knees like squats do sometimes. Like it’s not a very good leg work out exercise per se, but you’ll get some and it shouldn’t hurt your knees.

If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown

Haha, this was a funny photo from the CCSF Christmas party, 2018. I made those shirts. I made it for sensei. I remember that he said that once and I thought it was cool.

He might have been describing a specific situation, but I thought it also sounded cool figuratively.

Robert Mendoza and Sensei – If you keep your head up you can’t get thrown – CCSF judo

I made another and added it as a random gift in the party. I am happy that Robert chose it.

How I made it…

I did a drawing of sensei that I found on Facebook on a piece of poster board. Then I made a stencil and stenciled it with a fabric marker onto a T-shirt. It’s kind of low-tech and a bit wabi-sabi.

Not sure if he really liked it, but some people seemed to get a kick out of it.

I got promoted to Judo brown belt

So along with another classmate I got promoted from green belt to judo brown belt.

Sensei, myself, Stas, and Samir

This last Tuesday I got promoted to judo brown belt. Nothing feels different though. I still feel like a white belt. Sensei says that it is hard to see your own progress cause everyone else is progressing too.

Beats me.

In promotion everyone lines up and gets to do 3 free throws. You don’t fight you just let them throw you. It’s practice for falling, but it is a lot of throws.

So in about 5-10 minutes I got thrown about…

Let me think…

There were maybe 15-20 students doing throws and they each get to throw 3 times so that’s…

Getting thrown anywhere from 45-60 times in maybe 10 minutes. I sort of dreaded it at first because I remembered last time, but it’s not so bad. Some throw hard, but many don’t.

And…

Judo is hard.

Progress seems slow, but belt promotion is faster than jiu-jitsu. From what I read I think averages for judo might be close to 5 years from white belt to black.

In jiu-jitsu the average is about 10 years from white to black.

I don’t do a lot of judo. I do about 2 days a week and have done so for around three years. Though in the beginning I didn’t do much randori just technique.

I got the photo from CCSF’s judo page.

Judo vs. BJJ for self defense?

Which is better for self defense? Judo or Brazilian jiu-jitsu? I saw this question on Quora and I had to add my two cents.

The short answer is….

It depends.

There are some potential advantages and disadvantages to both and in this post I will explore them both as best as I can.

But first off know that you can’t learn any one overnight, in a couple of weeks or even a few months. I mean you can learn techniques, but how deeply will you learn them? Will they be instinctual under pressure?

Probably not.

You need time and a lot of repetition.

Judo for self-defense?

Judo could be good for self defense as it evolved from Japanese jiu-jitsu. But nowadays judo is more focused on throws. In its past it was the full grappling program with newaza (ground grappling), tachi waza (standing) and leg attacks.

But the rules to judo changed because it was boring to watch ground grappling on TV. It was more fun to watch people getting thrown. Then 4 or 5 years ago they banned leg attacks so you can’t touch the legs.

So for judo it’s going to depend on the dojo. Many are going to spend most of the time doing stand up techniques.

But for self-defense you want to learn both stand up and ground grappling.

So if you choose to go the judo route and you want to learn it for self defense choose a school that spends a lot of time with newaza.

The potential problem with judo is that you won’t learn enough ground grappling.

I have only trained judo at one school, CCSF. The intermediate-advanced classes are now 100% stand up. Sensei used to teach some basic newaza in those classes, but now he says if you want to learn ground grappling to go to the beginners judo/jiu-jitsu or intermediate jiu-jitsu classes.

The throws work though even without a gi. In fact I will tell you a story below related to that. But if you are curious here is a cool video that shows judo throws being done in MMA.

BJJ for self defense?

BJJ evolved from judo, but not the modern day judo you see on TV. BJJ is primarily a ground grappling martial art. The goal in BJJ is to basically submit your opponent.

It’s good for self defense, but it has a weakness and that is that it is mostly focused on the ground. If you don’t learn how to take your opponent down then you’ll never be able to apply what you learned in ground grappling.

The potential problem with BJJ is that you won’t learn how to take someone down.

I’d say most BJJ schools will spend 90-99% of the time on the ground. For example, the first school that I learned at probably spent 95% or more of the time doing ground techniques.

The rules won’t apply on the street

Judo has a lot more rules and formality than does BJJ. BJJ is basically about submitting your partner. Judo contests are mostly about throwing your partner and getting him to land flat on his back, ippon!

But judo sparring matches start standing up which is more like a real fight. BJJ sparring usually starts on your knees. Contests start standing up, but in class you usually start on your knees or sitting which is not like a real fight.

A submission can win the contest too, but only black belts can do arm locks in competition. Lower belts can only do chokes.

Keep in mind either way the rules applied to either one don’t apply on the streets. The same goes for MMA. While in MMA you can kick and punch you can’t kick and punch everywhere or attack the groin or eyes which could be done on the street.

Also on the street someone could try to bite you too right when you are about to arm bar them. So keep that in mind.

I had an altercation once where this freaky street guy probably on drugs without shoes or a shirt came by and tried to steal my money. I was able to use what I had learned from both judo and BJJ to stop the fight and control him until the cops came by.

Here’s a video about that or you can read and watch it here.

So which is best? BJJ or judo for self-defense?

I’d say both. Learn both if you can or choose a judo dojo that has a good newaza program or a jiu-jitsu program with good takedowns or throws. Commit to a year for starters. That’s what I would do. It’s easy to quit after a month or two and like I said you won’t really learn or remember much in a month.

What about Japanese jiu-jitsu?

That might be good, but as far as I know the sparring element is missing which can be common in some other martial arts.

The first martial art I did was wing chun. It was kinda cool, but I thought it was overly mechanic and everything was staged – there was no sparring.

Sparring is important. And judo and BJJ both have live sparring.

There are a lot of martial arts that could be effective. It just depends.