A Grand Series of “AHA!” Moments

Since deciding to enter competition, I have been attending BJJ classes almost religiously. I figure, if I’m not going to win, I’m at least going to learn enough to give folks a run for their money! I’ve been going to our Fundamentals class as well as our regular rolling class a lot more often than before (next to never). I have learned a great deal in the last little while, my defence game has gotten much better and I’m actually attempting attacks now!

Tonight, we had some great drills, which I was nailing if I do say so myself (and I do lol) and managed to survive against pretty much every opponent I rolled with. I even….dare I say…….(dare! dare!) choked out a blue belt. He may have let me, I’m not gonna lie lol but it felt awesome to be able to launch an attack and it be successful.

Speaking of successful. A whole bunch of us were called up tonight to receive stripes on our belts. Including…..well…..

18893458_10155409802537959_5046269601091960709_nThis guy!

Half way to blue belt! Making it up there!

Big shout out to everyone who got striped up tonight, especially Ryan who finally got his first stripe! You should’ve got it a long time ago, bro. So proud of you!





Excellent. Now That I have your attention….

Speaking with a good buddy and fellow martial artist Ryan, he mentioned that we should try out a tournament for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Not a bad idea, right? Right? I wanted to train extra hard, get a couple more stripes on my white belt, drop like, 40 more pounds and THEN go to competition. Like, next year at the earliest. But you know what?

Fuck it. 
Let’s do it now.

As such….Ryan and I (and a bunch of other folks from ACMA) are planning on hitting up the Grappling Industries Toronto Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Tournament!


Damn! Even their posters like friggin’ high intensity!!

Looks like I will likely be competing in the Men’s Masters Ultra Super Heavyweight Class. Unless I can drop the 40lbs between now and then.

I don’t expect to win. Hell, I don’t even expect to do well. I do expect to go in there, give it my best shot, learn a few things and get some great experience out of it. It’s also motivating me to train a lot hard in my BJJ and my athletic conditioning ahead of time for the big day. A LOT more mat time is about to come my way.




Star Struck: Meeting a BJJ Legend!

Yes I know. I said I would write more.

Yes I know. You keep coming back expecting more entries.

No I haven’t had time. I’ve been too busy being awesome.

So the other night, I came back from a cadet training weekend and I was exhausted. Supervising a couple hundred kids and their officers can get tiring! Either way, I got back into the hometown, met up with the wifey for some dinner, because apparently humans need to eat or something….sounds like devil magic to me…lol anywho, got home around 10:30ish, got into bed and was out before 11. Highly unusual for me, but when the body says sleep, you listen.

I wake up around 7 or 8 (and yelled to the cabbie “Yo homes! Smell ya later!”) and started getting ready to take Cait to the airport. Then I get a message from my dear Professor, Fariba. 

“Good morning darling !!! I’m sorry I didn’t let you know this earlier !! The seminar on Thursday got cancelled because of flight
Cancellations in NY !! He didn’t make it here till after mid night !
Anyways its rescheduled for today at 2:30 pm !!
If you can come we would love to see you !’
If you can convince your buddy Ryan to come !! 😊
Michael and Brian and Taylor will be there too !’ I would love to see my fundamental student brothers and sisters participating and learning from this legend !!”

I took a look at my day’s calendar. It’s 8:00. Loaf around the apartment til like, 11:00. Hit the gym, clear by 1:00. Pick up wifey at 1:30. Drop off at airport around 2. Which leaves….definite time to attend! Quickly grabbed a bite and downed a coffee, hurried over to the dojo and there he was. 

Professor Carlos Machado.

It’s not every day that the average BJJ student gets to meet the guy whose name is on their gi. It was a fabulous seminar. Professor Machado is not only friendly and hilarious, but a very talented BJJ teacher and very wise master. I was truly honoured to be in his presence and learn a thing or two from him.

18121706_10155256197927959_7143956668764789585_oMe on the left (obviously…….) and Professor Carlos Machado.

I can’t wait til Tuesday! All you fundamental brothers and sisters who didn’t bother to come….you gon’ get smashed. 

Ryan…..I’m looking at you, brah. 😉



11 Year Old Karate Student Needs Your Help!!


I wish I could sum up things like my Sensei, Kyoshi Vito, but I can’t. And thus, I will post something here and copy his words. If you can help this poor girl in any way, please I urge you. Go to Tim Horton’s this week instead of Starbucks and help give a kid a chance at a regular childhood!!

Check out the GoFundMe page, located at https://www.gofundme.com/nupur-medical-fund

Nupur Mate is a beautiful and happy 11 year old girl.  Like any other girl her age, Nupur enjoys socializing with friends, loves taking karate and swimming lessons and spending time with her parents.  About 3 weeks ago, life for Nupur and her parents changed drastically. 

It started out as a cough, sore throat and fever which became severe enough to rush Nupur to a hospital.  She returned home that night only to be rushed back to the hospital the next day because she had no feeling in her arms and legs.  In emergency, she flat lined (her heart stopped).  Nupur had many doctors and nurses working on her, performing CPR in front of her devastated parents.  Doctors were finally able to revive her and the hospital immediately transferred Nupur to Sick Kids.   

The diagnosis from Sick Kids was a mutated form of Strep A bacteria that had attacked Nupur’s body.  Nupur was put on life support, and had kidney failure (which now requires regular dialysis). Her prognosis was dim.  The doctors told her parents that she may not live through the night.  Nupur remained on life support for another 8 days.

Nupur’s blood pressure was dangerously low and the bacteria was attacking her limbs.  Her parents were told to prepare for the worst.  With a miracle, she may survive but doctors felt they may need to amputate portions of her limbs in order to stop the bacteria from causing any further damage.

Unfortunately, on Friday, March 10, 2017, a portion of Nupur’s left arm and right leg had to be amputated.  Nupur is still at Sick Kids but her condition has stabilized.  She will be at Sick Kids for at least 6 months and will require prosthetics and extensive rehabilitation.  She has a very long and hard road ahead of her.

Nupur trains at All Canadian Martial Arts (ACMA) and was working on her advanced brown belt before her life changed dramatically.  At ACMA, every single member is considered family.  Currently, the only family Nupur and her parents have in Canada are the instructors and students of ACMA.   ACMA has raised some funds in order for Nupur’s mother to leave her place of work so that she can be with her only child.

However, the funds raised are not sufficient to provide for the extensive care related expenses the family will incur.  The coverage by the province is limited for prosthetics , and their home will need renovations (bathroom modifications, and railing installations) to accommodate a child with new prosthetics.  

Nupur is one tough little girl and she is still fighting the biggest fight of her life.  Nupur has chosen to stay positive saying that she is happy to be alive and to have a second chance at life.  She understands that she has a long and challenging road ahead of her but is determined to return to normal life, including school, karate, and swimming.  

The family needs your support and help to provide some relief from the financial burden so that they can focus on Nupur’s recovery.  If you would like to make a contribution to help the Mate family in their time of need, they would be extremely grateful. No amount is too small to make a difference.

 Thank you, on behalf Sunita, Nikhil and Nupur Mate!

 Nupur, we love you!

Help spread the word!
2nd Kyu Shotokan Karateka Nupur Mate
I believe in the power of the internet to accomplish something positive. Come on, folks! If you can’t give anything monetarily, at least keep this bright, shining face in your thoughts and prayers.


The Beginning of the Blue Man Group

Well folks, as I’m sure you can tell by the layout of the blog, something has changed. Something is….different.

The background? It is blue. One may have noticed that before, it was green. And before that? Orange. Yes. I change the background whenever my belt colour changes. Which means….I am now a blue belt.

March 9th, 2017 myself and my compadres went into grading. We attended that night as the Lean Mean Green Machine, and today? We are the Blue Man Group. Myself, Ryan, Amir and Chris all received our promotions to 6th Kyu in the art of Shotokan Karate. I am proud of each and every one of you, and very proud of everyone who attended their grading and received their new belts. Well done to you all!

And now….we move from the top of the beginner level to the bottom of the intermediate group. Let’s see how far the rabbit hole goes this year!

6th Kyu (Blue Belt) Doug. 

Dang that belt looks a little small….guess its time to step up the cardio…. 😉

I know Joan was looking down on me that night. Thank you for your strength and courage, grandma. Hopefully I don’t let you down.



Oishi!! March 7, 2017

Well folks, I haven’t added anything fancy to the repertoire of culinary arts lately…

Until yesterday.

Apparently I can follow simple directions, which was great. Cait and I made this great chicken pasta recipe, which you can find here and let me tell ya. I was quite impressed with it. 

Couple things to point out:
Basic culinary skills are required. I had the recipe open. It called for minced garlic. I then had to open another tab to learn how to mince garlic. Told ya, I’m a plain chicken and veggies kinda guy lol

When it says 20 minutes, and you’re no Chef Ramsey, it takes a little longer. I started the recipe at 4:30. We ate around 6 lol

Either way, Cait being Cait Instagrammed the experience. Since I don’t have said program (yet at least) I’ll include some pictures here, of the process and of the finished product:

So, I’m just gonna say, not only does that look, smell and taste amazing, but check out that joocy arm. Dayum, mang! That’s some serious gym time!!!

All in all, Cait and I had a whole lot of fun making this, it was super tasty AND, super healthy. With all home prepped ingredients, it was also rather rewarding to see it all come together. 

Remember my friends, your body is your Dodge Charger that drives you through life. Fill the tank with PREMIUM!!! 

And couples that cook together, stay together. Hint: the secret ingredients are a cup of laughter, a pinch of silliness and a huge helping of love. 🙂

Til next time, don’t stay hungry my friends. Get yourself in the kitchen! Learn a thing or two! Spend some time with loved ones and mmmmm…..eat some damn good food!


Or, as Cait now affectionately refers to me as….

Chef Doug

Reflections on an earlier time

Well, karateka, I’ve been delaying writing this, mostly because I was looking high and low for the associated picture, but for some odd reason, I can’t find it. Maybe it’s been lost in various moves over the years, and that is kinda disappointing. There is a story, though.

When I was a kid, my parents were rather big on the getting my brother and I to church bit. Being as I was like, a year old at the time I didn’t have much of a chance to complain. My dad is Roman Catholic and my mom is Anglican. Since we didn’t feel like getting up at 0 dark friggin’ early o’clock in the morning for it, my mom took my brother and I to the Anglican church, St Matthias in Etobicoke. The first people to introduce themselves to my family were Stuart and Joan Isles, two of the most wonderful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in my life.

From that moment on, Stuart and Joan became huge parts of my life. Both of my grandfathers had passed away prior to me being born, my dad’s mother died soon after and my mother’s mom was….well, I loved her but she was a little on the….against most of the world side. Thus, Stuart and Joan became my adopted grandparents. They would always come over for Easter, Christmas, birthdays, random days, whenever. When I was younger, maybe 8 or 9, Stuart taught me how to play Poker, and to essentially stay away from it as I bet my mother’s car and lost it (No, I didn’t actually need to give him keys, but my mom was none too pleased regardless.)

Stuart was a wise man, served his country during it’s time of need in the military, always had a witty remark, a smile and some sage advice. Not very often did he rise to anger, but if you got him to that point, you never felt like you were being scorned. You felt more like you had disappointed him and that was ten times worse. We lost Stuart when I was in middle school. The last thing he ever said to my mother (and vis a vis, our family) was to take care of Joan for him. He didn’t even ask his own children or grandchildren to set forth on such a task. It was my mom, my brother and I who were essentially left in charge.

The years went on and Joan continued to be a member of our family, even more so now that Stuart was gone. We saw her quite regularly for dinner, every week at church and sometimes stopping by to say hello and share a cup of tea. Even in her most difficult hours, she always wore a smile, always had something nice to say and always had a cup of tea to offer. As I know Cait would say, Joan was just so lovely.

The problem with living your life and working in a difficult field is that your time often gets relegated elsewhere. Your priorities change, things become shuffled about and time is spent doing other things which seem more important than when you’re 8 years old. I still tried to make time to chat with Joan throughout the years, but often I was too busy or preoccupied with other things to go over and visit. 

In February, I was working on a night shift. Right out the door. Before I could even get my pants on, the radio piped up: “All available downtown units, as per Sierra 1, start making your way to 291 George St. Active fire, TFS is on scene.” One by one, the radio piped up. Patrol 15 copies, on route. Patrol 16 copies, on route. I found my radio and piped up as well…Patrol 13 copies, on route. We get there to see the remnants of day shift there, helping to direct pedestrian traffic. The entire street is littered with fire trucks and ambulances. Above our heads, fire fighters battle the 5-alarm blaze that took out an entire floor, causing 26 residents to lose their homes. My team and I get straight into action, directing traffic, evacuating residents, conducting access control, assisting with CCTV footage, just in case all is not as it seems. In the end, one resident tragically lost his life and another risked his to try and save him. Several were transported to hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation. The long road to recovery was ahead. 

I had just finished with the building evacuation, my team was on the ground co-ordinating the efforts to grab a head count on board TTC busses graciously deployed for us. I sat down with police investigators who wanted to see the CCTV footage when my mom called. She knew I was at work, and it was almost 10:00 at night. I decided that something must be up and picked up the phone. That’s when she dropped the news on me. “Grandma Joan died. She died last week and we just found out now. Her grandkids didn’t have much of a funeral for her, there was no obituary, we just found out from another member of the church.”

At that exact moment, my whole world just kinda paused. A wave of pain and anguish swept over my entire body and it took everything I had not to start crying right there. I hung up the phone and threw it across the desk. My platoon Sergeant, Kevin, asked what was wrong. I barely choked out the words. He asked if I wanted to go home, but I knew that not only were all hands required on deck, but if I were to leave, my team would be down another car and I just could not do that to my guys. I looked at him and told him that I had a job to do and continued to work on the footage. 

Eventually I did get a moment to myself, hours later. I lit up a cigarette, shed a few tears and got back to work. I didn’t have much choice. I also feel like it was for the best. What was I going to do, wallow in self pity and sadness or get back to work and distract myself for a while?

I finished the call and eventually left work, 17 hours after booking on. I went home, passed directly out and tried not to think about it. 

A day or so later, it was time to head back to the dojo. I went right after work. Traffic along the highways was atrocious and I was late for class. On top of that was the ridiculous day I had just worked and the stresses of the previous week’s occurrence still weighing down on my mind. This night was training in kumite (sparring for those of us not in the know) and I thought ok, I’m pretty good at this. It will take my mind off of everything. I was wrong. My mind was most definitely not in the game. I was agitated, unfocused and with every point I “felt” I should’ve been awarded, it seemed like there was just some reason that Shihan would not credit me for. I lost every single fight and was visibly distraught. My last fight was against a guy named Johnny who does have some developmental issues. Regardless though, we all love the guy and I think he is just the bee’s knees. I’m proud of him for what he has accomplished. So Johnny and I are sparring, again my mind is absent and I’m trying to hold back on the obvious rage. I deliver my specialty, the Ushiro Geri or Spinning Back Kick. I hit poor Johnny directly in the sweetest of all sweet spots (no, not in the balls…) in the common peroneal motor point in the leg. Striking said spot causes immediate overload of the sensory nerves in the leg, resulting in pain and shut down of motor function. Y’all may know it as a “Charlie horse.” Johnny goes down, yells in pain. Eventually he gets back up and beats me. Again, unfocused and undisciplined fighting leads to certain defeat. I was just happy that Johnny wasn’t hurt. 

I left the main dojo studio and went into a side studio we have there and meditated. Tried to just clear my mind of all the craziness and anger that was coursing through me. I suppose they say that anger is one of the stages of grief, but at that exact moment I was trying to blame that anger on literally just about anything else. 

A little while after, one of our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors, Isaac, comes up to me. Apparently I looked a little down. Well, I cried on his shoulder. Then Professor Fariba walks in and I cried on her shoulder. All in all, I got a lot of it out and then…well, I’m already there, so I stayed for BJJ class. Had a much better class in that then in Karate. 

Following this class, I’ve had the chance to relax and work through the issues. I still miss her, but I know she would be looking down at me and encouraging me. She would probably sit me down with a cup of tea and gently scold me for “thinking such foolishness.”

This past Thursday, I received my last stripe on my green belt and an invitation to next Thursday’s grading. This upcoming week is all about kata, cardio, lifting and meditating. Bringing myself 110% back into focus to accomplish victory in this grading and move on to blue belt and the Intermediate Level BBM class. I need strength, humility, honour and love in my heart. The indomitable will to not give up and to push forward until my goal is reached.

This one’s for you, Grandma Joan. This one’s for you.



That improvement though…

I’ve been neglecting this a bit. Plenty of things to write about. Since each one is important I will give a little time and a post for each. 

On February 6, something happened that I did not expect in the slightest. BJJ class, doing rather well with drills, did some rolling and it was going well! Then all of a sudden I hear Kyoshi’s voice:


I glance at him but figure it’s just him saying hello or good job or keep it up. I bow and keep on rolling. I hear him again:


Still a little confused. I bow again. Because I’m swift like that. 

“Dougie! I appreciate the bowing but get over here!!”

Which shows how surprised I was. Didn’t even figure he wanted to see me. So I go over and bow down. I’m there before Kyoshi, Fariba and Isaac. Kyoshi pulls a piece of tape off of his kimono and grabs my belt. He tapes it up with my first stripe. A surge of pride swept over me. I may just finally be getting it. A stripe. In Jiu Jitsu. Wow. It’s finally starting to click. 

The Brazilian Jiu-jitsu obi with its first stripe

I can’t lie. I’m pretty stoked. I’ve been hitting the mats a lot more often lately and even I can tell I’m starting to roll with a bit more proficiency. 

Really starting to love this art!




So. Once again, I have sat down, looked at my complete game and made the following points: my Karate game is on point. Like, ridiculously on point. I’m practicing all the damn time, in kata and hitting the bag. I’ve kinda studied forward a bit and taught myself the kata “Jion” which is required for the belt after my next belt. I’m even learning how to say all of the stances, strikes and blocks in Japanese. To be perfectly frank, I am so immersed in my Karate studies that it has detracted from my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu studies. Hard detracted.

Now the problem is that there are two types of classes: Beginners (that’s me) and the regular class (which is sometimes me). I have slacked. I am not even gonna lie. There are BJJ classes legit almost every day of the week. Beginners on Tuesday and Thursday, Regular class on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. How many classes have I been going to lately? That’s correct. Zero. I always seem to have an excuse: I had to work late. I’m tired from Karate class. I have other stuff that I have to go do. I’m just plain God damn lazy. But not anymore.

I looked at my BJJ obi and was like, I’ve been here for over 6 months and it is still blank. They say that the average BJJ student should progress by a stripe every 6 months and here I am. With nothing. I’ve learned a bunch, had my ass handed to me on more than one occasion, had the occasional AHA! moment, but I have lacked any and all forms of consistency. That has to change. I’ve made it known that I am going to strive to be at 2-3 classes each week. Without fail. Because in order for me to progress and learn more and actually be able to put this newfound knowledge into any sort of reasonable practice, it needs to be used and cemented and made second nature. Just like my Karate studies.

I went twice this week, Thursday’s beginners and Saturday’s regular. When speaking with Professor Fariba afterwards, she did mention that I “move well” and “have natural talent.” However, as I’ve said before, hard work beats out natural talent, when natural talent fails to work hard. So I’ve turned over a new leaf and am shooting for that level of dedication. Obviously some weeks I won’t be able to get to 2 classes due to work and outside influences. And sometimes I’ll push myself and have the time to go to all 5 classes. Just cuz! So who knows. All I know is that I need to put in more mat time and start actually practicing BJJ instead of being that guy who shows up sometimes.

On top of this, I’m also switching up what I’m doing in the gym. Rather than lifting heavy for fewer reps, I’ll be lifting a little lighter for more reps with less time in between sets. I’m also dedicating myself to doing more cardio (which at current time is zero lol). My last workout consisted of lighter weights for back and triceps, 20 minute bike ride (5 miles) and some boxing cardio conditioning training. I have this cool app on my phone which times out 3 minute rounds. So I do a round on the heavy bag followed by a round of jump rope. Managed to get out 6 rounds the other day, so I just gotta push it harder and get my cardio up there.

I’m also trying to actually stay focused on what I eat. That part is the hard part. The gym and the dojo are easy. The kitchen is the place I REALLY need to shape up in!

Either way, hopefully it all goes as planned. I hope to be in more pictures like this:

16388379_10209382211405813_1004091386796619767_n ACMA’s Beginner Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. That fat, handsomely bearded gentleman on the right, though…..

Time to get ‘er done!



2017.01.21 Quote of the Day

“I need not be the best in the world, best in my country, best in my region, city, dojo or even best in my class. So long as I am the best I can be.”

– Kyu Doug

I hear a lot of people talking about competition lately. Kata, kumite competitions at various levels. Even just the internal spirit of competing with classmates for who has the highest belt or who knows the most kata or bunkai.

While some level of competitive spirit can inspire us to be better or learn more, Karate was never started to compete. It was a self defense system, and a way to discover your inner self. Funakoshi O Sensei never cared for trophies or medals. Neither did many of the great masters of the art. It’s a modern day phenomenon that all too often disrupts Karateka from the art’s true purpose.

If you want to compete, that’s great. Just remember that you are Karateka first, competitor second.