This is our second installment of the transcript – covering the part of the interview from just before 24 minutes, to around 50 minutes on the video.
It is good to see that some people benefit from these transcripts. It also forces me to listen more intently at what is being said.
Kaleb: So when you look at your childhood, you know, when you’re coming up, rough and tumble, running with guys that are bigger faster and doing some martial arts on the side. You know, I get the feeling that you’re probably always challenging yourself, or challenging others. You know, you’re always kind of pushing the limits.
Do you feel like, when you look back at your years, did martial arts give you a little bit more drive? Or do you feel like, maybe it gave you more temperates, to handle those circumstances? You know, as you grew and got older?
Alex: I definitely think both. I think I was more aware of the drive aspect, before, I was aware of the latter. You know, that sort of came in my later realizations, when I was sort of older and my intelligence had formed and matured a little bit. But, drive that you know, I mean, the way we train back then, it was proper old school Dojo’s, you know. On the wooden floors and there were small matted in areas. But we were doing, …. like I was six years old, doing push-ups on my knuckles, on the wood, you know. With like instructors coming and sort of putting pressure between our shoulders and then doing crunches. And then walking across our stomachs. And they hit us with sticks, if we were like acting out. And it sounds terrible. You can go to prison for that today.
But it wasn’t …. it wasn’t like that. It was …. it was a discipline that …. as a male child who’s …. who’s, you know, a lot of … like, a lot of my generation’s fathers weren’t ….. weren’t available, you know, I mean. They weren’t …. things changed during the industrial revolution and dads kind of became this ghost figure. You know, and boys need a dad full-time.
Like I got three sons, man. Every one of them, needs me all the time. And …. and especially the little ones, you know. And I think that replaced that, in a sense, you know what I mean. I think that …. the drive that came from like being forced into that discipline like, multiple times a week. You know, it’s just ….. it’s just beaten into you essentially. And then, it’s just … that wheel starts running, you know. That wheel starts running … and then when you do something….. Of course, that can …. you’ve got to be careful like, you don’t want to be the sort of … you know, sometimes I have to pull myself up and realize like, it’s okay to be like ….. not everything’s like, “Come on”.
Kaleb: Life or death.
Alex: So I become, you know, as I get older, I become … I’m learning the … the importance of that sort of gentle balance as well, you know. But to have that thing inside you. To be able to harness that fire and push yourself forward and …
Also, I think another aspect is …. is your relationship with pain. I think pain is something that a lot of people are scared of. And pain sucks, you know what I mean. Pain is …. it is what it is. But ….. through pain, you’re forced to do one of two things, in my opinion. You’re either forced to retreat, or you’re forced to grow. And if you …. if you’re not given the opportunity to retreat [laughs]
Alex: There’s a 220-pound black belt, lunatic, sitting on your chest …. then … then you have to grow. And what does growth look like in that moment? What sort of growth is required, given the circumstances? And that’s …. that’s …. that’s sort of how I …. how I… I see that it parallels with life a lot.
You get to kind of like, assess very quickly. And …. and, whilst staying safe and staying calm and then find …. find an avenue out of there. And I think that, that became a part of my life early on. Because I was introduced to pain … physical pain, that you could get over. Not injury pain. Like, just temporary physical pain.
But yeah, it’s wild reflecting all those years back, man. Almost 40 years now. But …
Kaleb: Yeah, but I mean, it’s like when you look at the …. Like you talked about, the balance, you know. Too much, not enough. It’s just like when you’re in a bad position, when they’re doing Jiu-Jitsu. If you get too aggressive and expend too much energy and pushing the wrong directions. You know, you’re taking a lot of action, but you’re not getting results.
Kaleb: Versus, the more you play, you take calculated action and you get, you know, more results for that action. And it’s kind of that balance of like, you can try to defend the position too much. You know, or you can defend it not enough, just like when you’re dealing with stuff in life in general. Where it’s like, you can overreact and lock it down too tight, and be a little bit too forceful, and you know, miss it. Or be a little too passive and complacent.
And it goes back to that balance, you know, which, you know, you kind of look at like all of the people that use analogies, such as like surfing and skiing. And you know, they always talking about like, all just gotta find that zone. That …. that balance. That sweet spot. And, you know, that’s what you’re trying to find in Jiu-Jitsu, but it just seems to bleed over into the rest of life.
Kaleb: So, wow, you know. Just like you said, managing pain.
Alex: Yeah. Another thing I really like to do is rock climb. I … I started climbing when I was probably about 20. When you’re climbing, there’s something called your 3-foot world, you know. It’s like right here. And nothing else matters. That 3-foot world is all that matters. The foothold that you’ve just gotten, it doesn’t matter. You lock it in …. if it’s locked in, you commit, you go. And you’re three-foot world changes, through each small movement, you know. And …. and … yeah, you just made me think about that. And it’s the same thing ….. it’s the same thing in Jiu-Jitsu.
It’s like…. and you know the other thing ……. the other thing that’s amazing, is watching women come in and start brand-new like purebreds, from like the first crispy white belt. And watching how quickly ….. because this happens in rock climbing as well. Women are intrinsically better at rock climbing than men. You see dudes like, start to climb and they’re burning out and their arms are all pumped. And they’re falling off. And they can’t …
And these women are just like, almost immediately, it’s perfect form. They’re straight arms, bent legs. They’re using their leg muscles. They’re like resting their hands. And they’re making their way up these rock faces. And if you watch women in a Jiu-jitsu gym, it’s amazing, because they don’t … they’re not born thinking, I can …. I can rely on brawn. I can rely on brut strength, right. So you know, you see these women come in and … and it’s amazing to watch their journeys.
Because as dude, I went in, and like, when you get on me, all my, wah – testosterone, or whatever else is like, kicks in and adrenaline. And I’m like, we’re fighting, you know. And you do …. you do fight in Jiu-Jitsu – it’s … it’s …. it’s a full …. it’s a full-contact martial art. Which is very different to a lot of the other ones. But there’s so much more to it. And the moments of fight, or scramble, or explosion. Really when you break it down, and you’ve been around for a minute, and you learn real Jiu-Jitsu.
You know, there’s sort of minimal, unless you’re in competition, of course. And then it’s just on, you know. And that’s not something I do. But, you know, if you’re …. and I’m not even talking about flow …. gentle flow rolling. Sort of that normal rolling. Like, you can only explode and go hard for a certain amount of time, before you’re gassing and you’re pumped. Your movements aren’t as effective. Your brain response time, to your actual physical response time, starts widening and all that sort of stuff.
But, I watch women come in and they kind of freaked out at first. And then they get it ….. they get it so quickly, man. And they’ve watched their technique, and they learn the technique and they get the technique and they use the technique. And I said, “Wow. These girls get so good, and so quick. It’s crazy”. The dudes are still like, oh, like clashing heads, breaking noses, and …
Kaleb: I definitely, had the same experience where it’s like, the guys kind of want to push through and run over. And … and the girls are a little bit more adaptable about like, move around.
Alex: Right. Yeah, right.
Kaleb: You know, like, no resistance, instead of having to like stomp on the resistance. And, like you said, no conditioning of just, from who knows where it comes from? You know, society, chemical. You know, nature or nurture. Like, who knows, but … but you notice the trend, when you’re training with people. And, especially the higher ranks. Like, you become very similar to that where it’s like, calculated efficient movements, to where I moved just enough, not too much, not too little. And man, I mean honestly, like, with anything in life. Like that’s usually the goal. That’s like, you know, you got to do just enough. Because you can overdo it, or under-do it.
Kaleb: If you were going to look at a situation, outside of the martial arts, which you knew you were like, man, this moment has happened, or I handled this moment, because of martial arts in my life. Is there any to stand out that was like maybe you know, like an epiphany, or?
Alex: I think, especially Jiu-Jitsu, it comes into play in …. in …. in all areas of my life. And … and there’s moments …. when um, just like on the mat, there’s moments when I’m like, I’m not focused on my breathing. Or my breathing needs to be a lot calmer. There’s days when I’m rolling and I’m just like, “Dude, you’re a mess”. Like, “Slow down. Slow your breath down. Like, bring it back. What are you doing? What are you thinking about? Come back. Empty your mind.”. And it’s like in life.
There’s days when I wake up and I got a head, like a slapped arse. Just like …. And the kids are like, “Okay, let’s give dad some space today.” I think it’s … it’s life on life’s terms, you know what I mean. But for the most part across the board, 97% of the time, I am much more well equipped to deal with life and all of its complexities, and it’s difficulties, and it’s different personalities, and it’s agendas, and everything else, than I … than I was, even 10 years ago, you know.
And by the way, as a person, I fail every day. You know what I mean. Every night I lay in bed, and I go “Okay, what can I do differently tomorrow?”. You know, as a .. as … as …. as a husband, as a father, as a friend, as a brother, or as a son. There’s always adjustments that need to be made, you know.
And I think that’s …. the …. that’s the beauty of life, you know. I don’t … I’m never …. I’m never like, “Yeah, buddy … yeah, yeah yeah”. But there’s …. there’s ….there’s …. the martial arts in my life, have had such a strong influence and ….. and again I come back to Jiu-jitsu. Because Jiu-Jitsu is so profound. It’s so profound. It’s like, I’ve gotten a bunch of people into it over the years. And I’ve tried to get like a 100 times that many people into it. You know, and some people just …they don’t give a fuck. And it’s like, no problem, I totally get it. I want people to get it. I want people to have it, because of how much it’s given me. Because of how much I’ve seen it give so many people.
Kaleb: I mean, that really makes so much sense. Because like the first part of it was, you know, failing as a person. You know, ‘cos everybody seems to have this innate fear of failure. I mean, there’s a whole fear of success discussion, but that’s a whole different one.
Kaleb: But like …. But the fear of failure, you know, of just making mistakes. And like I didn’t do perfect. And, you know, Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts, you know, that type of training, I mean, you failed thousands … thousands maybe millions of times and it becomes so common, that you’re just like, not even bothered by it. You become desensitized to it. And then, you know, when you talked about, you know, coping with what life, gives you – of different personality types and just different struggles. I mean, those are like the rolling partners on the mat. Sometimes it’s a big strong guy, sometimes it’s the little fast person. You know, sometimes it’s a new person, where you have to be the leader, and help them along. And then sometimes you’re just the nail and they’re the hammer.
Alex: You know, I love that …. I love that Renzo quote man. The Renzo quote …. just, you guys know is …. um … I’m gonna paraphrase, because I can never quote anyone correctly. But he was basically …… he basically said look, the job in the first few years of the training Jiu-Jitsu, is to be the nail. ‘Cos you’re gonna just get hammered, and hammered, and hammered. But then at a certain point, something changes and you become a hammer.
And I was like “Oh my god it’s amazing”. But the beauty of that, is that when you become the hammer, you’re actually ready to be the hammer. You know, you’re ready to …. we hope …. we hope, you know, you’re ready to use that responsibly and …. and you should have been teaching like, long before then and all the rest of it, you know.
There’s actually this picture of grandmaster Hélio behind me here that Royce gave me. I had the … the …the old the federation … the Jiu-Jitsu federation picture over the lightning bolt and stuff in it, in my garage here. It faded out over the years. And, Royce was like, we’ve got another picture for you. And he gave me this one. It’s actually signed by … by his pops. But what’s amazing …. I don’t know if you can see the color of his belt? Can you see it?
Alex: It’s blue, right? So this man was the, you know. He was the ….. he and his brother and they’re the highest-ranked Jiu-jitsu belts in the world. A 10th-degree black and a 10th-degree red belt. And …. um, at a certain point in life, he stopped wearing the red belt. He took it off and he put his blue belt back on. And it’s kind of Navy and his custom navy blue belt. And that’s … uh … that’s actually what grandmaster Royce wears now too.
And it’s my understanding that the reason he … he went back to this, is because it’s that forever white belt mentality, you know. And … and Cobrinha talks about that a lot. It is like, you gotta …. you always have to be a white belt. Be a white belt in your mind. No matter how good you get. No matter how many medals you get. No matter what you … you know, what riches you attain. No matter what. If you keep that white belt mentality, you will …. you will always win.
Alex: Because it doesn’t matter. And there’s always room for growth. And that’s … that’s the incredible thing. Like, he died like, well into the 90s. You know, to the very end, he would say that like, “Every day, I am still learning. I learn from these kids that come in and train with me”. I mean, that’s …. that’s beautiful. That’s incredible. That’s a reason to do something.
Kaleb: Absolutely man. I mean, just, it’s profound purpose of just, you know, always moving forward and growing. You know, which just as human beings, like we’re wired to … and that’s what we’re wired to do. We are wired to grow and do, you know, contribute and help others. Um, you know, on a real basic level.
Which kind of makes me go to the next question of. You know, a lot of people in martial arts, they seem to struggle with, being humble and being like, unconfident. Like they get the two confused. Where it’s like extreme humility, means I have no confidence myself. Um… And I feel like there’s a balance in there, to where it’s like, you need to have confidence in who you are, what you know, what you’re capable of. But you still want the humility, you know, of being a student and learning and progressing.
Do you have a perspective on that, of like, how do you balance that? How do you find that happy medium? You know, or ….?
Alex: Yeah, man. I think it’s a …. it’s a fantastic question. It’s really …. it’s a really important question. Not just in this sort of discussion of the martial arts, but also life. I once heard somebody say that, humility, or being humble, you know, it’s not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less. And, I heard that, and I was like, “That’s amazing!”. And I know it’s super simple, but it’s like, I need super simple. Because I’m super complicated, right. So, I heard that I was like, “Oh my god, that’s amazing”.
And so, of course, there’s aspects that I think are critically important in life, like service, you know. And … and …. and being there for other people. And helping … um … anyone, whenever you can. And, I think that stuff …. again this isn’t …. this isn’t directly martial arts related, yet. But it’s like, I think service is … is something that a lot of us think about and a lot … but it’s ….. But it’s … it’s really important.
It’s something that I try to do. And don’t do enough. And wish I … I did more. There you go, perfect example. This was maybe…. maybe this conversation is good to ref me up into some more service. But anything that I can get out of self with, you know. Because when I’m like thinking about myself. And I used to be so self-absorbed dude. Like, oh god. I must have been so boring to be with, just as a young actor in Hollywood. It’s just like, “How do I look? How do I sound?”. It’s like, fuck! It’s so boring.
But if you can get out of self. That, I feel like is the beginning of kind of humility. And as far as like …. as far as training in a martial art. In … in …. in having one teacher and maybe one Sensei, even if you have multiple teachers. And, you know. I’m …. I’m a … I’m a purist, in the sense that I come from a traditional martial arts background.
And so, when I tie my belt around my … my Gi, and I wipe my feet and I walk onto that mat. It’s like a …. I don’t want to get .. like … I don’t know it’s …. it’s a big deal for me, you know. And it’s because it was made a big deal. I was taught that it’s a big deal, when I was very very young. And this …. room these …. these matted areas that we practice these arts in … on … together, are kind of …. from me it’s a sacred place, you know. And so I think like, I’m not …. I think there’s … respect and reverence are really important, you know.
When you walk into a Dojo like, bow … bow at the door and then walk in, you know. And … and the reason we wipe our feet at the edges of the mat, are not just to get the dust and dirt and grime from the soles of our feet, but it’s also we wipe away our ego and wipe away all the …. the world’s problems. And we leave the world out there. We don’t bring it in here. We don’t bring it on these mats, you know. And that’s really important. And that affects all of our training. And you will … like I was … you will be forced into humility. Because the other option is humiliation, right.
When you do a full-contact martial art. And that’s why I keep coming back to Jiu-Jitsu. Because of all this other stuff, it’s beautiful, you know, what I mean. When you’re doing air punches and beautiful kicks, and you look amazing, and people get photographs. And you know …. But it’s like, when someone grabs your neck, something changes. All the like, character defects jump to the surface, and you are, “Fuck, come here” .
And it’s like when you can start to harness that process and stay calm during all that stuff, there’s something really magical about it. And I’m kind of waffling on man. But …. I don’t know if I answered your question.
Kaleb: No, that is what I consider profound knowledge, man. Because like it’s coming from a place of truth. It’s like, that is exactly what it’s like. And the way in which you look at the martial arts. And your journey within it and what that belt means to you. Like that’s what defines its value. And by defining its value, you’re going to measure its impact in the rest of your life.
Kaleb: So, I mean, like that’s a very, very balanced perspective. Because, if it didn’t mean anything to you, 1) – you wouldn’t dedicate your life to it. And 2) – you would not get out of it, everything that does come with it.
Like you said, there’s people out there that, they get the black belt. They achieve a few things, but you know, there’s some pieces of their lives that maybe they’re missing or struggling with. You know, wisdom or overall view of things. And it’s like, the intentionality of that on the front end of knowing what you’re doing and what you’re learning, is a very serious valid, you know, thing. It’s just a lot of people they, shortchange it. And I really think it comes from embarrassment. Like fear of embarrassment, because …
Alex: Yeah, fear comes from like, a lot of us have low self-esteem. It comes from…. it comes from, you know, agendas …
Alex: Fear … I think fear, man. I think fear is the big one.
Kaleb: I … I agree. Because, you think about how many people limit their thoughts, or their true emotions, or feelings about something, because they’re afraid of judgment, or what people might say, or what other people do…
Alex: Totally … totally. And that was my process, you know. I came in Jiu-Jitsu and I was humiliated ….. humiliated. Like time and time again. By like, little dudes, big dudes, fat dudes, skinny dudes, women, children. Like, they just beat the shit out of me. And it was humiliating.
But the reason it was humiliating, because this …. this is why it was humiliating. It’s because of … of my process at the time, you know. And this is going back like, almost a decade. And …and things have changed a lot to me. Like, it’s my opinion that you can recreate yourself every day. I really believe that. And I try to every day. And sometimes I succeed. And sometimes I fail. And sometimes I …. regress. But that’s a different conversation too.
So, I would be humiliated because this hadn’t changed, you know. And there was still so much ego coming onto the mat with me. And once that started to shift and it moves from humiliation to being humbled. That was …. that was so liberating. It was such a liberating experience, ‘cos, those guys are still that much better than me. Like I’m never gonna beat, Egan. But you know what I mean. There was, in the early days … I never …. And by the way, I never was like, can I beat this dude? That’s … no… that’s… that’s ….. You should never ever think that, about the man, or woman, that you’re training under.
But the other guys, I wanted to like, when can I run this blue belt a little bit. Or when can …..why is this white belt keeping …. And when that … when the humility kind of kicked in and I just started taking in, and being like, “Wow, okay. I’m being hump … “. And I was humbled by it. I wasn’t embarrassed anymore … I was … it just left me quiet and pensive and thoughtful. And it was …. I wasn’t, like … it wasn’t upsetting [laughs] like, it was in the very beginning. And what’s amazing, is the transformation from sort of being humbled by something, trans into being stoked by something.
Like one of my dudes …. I got … I got a group of dudes here. These amazing guys. Most of them are black belts. They come over. They train in my house, my garage, you know. And we can, you know, I’m never far from my kids. It’s why I built a gym at my house. I’m never, you know, I can control who comes and who doesn’t. And they’re all really, really good.
We’re all busy. They run in, and we train hard for an hour. And, you know, we go back to our lives. But they come in. And like I know their games. They can’t trick me anymore. We…. like we … we go hard too. Like, you know … and sometimes one of them will get something, and I’m like, “Dude, that was DOPE. Like, how did you do that? That was amazing”. And then we sit down. We break it apart and we give everything to each other. And it becomes like, this collaboration. It becomes like, it’s … it’s like, it’s so much more. They’re my family now, you know what I mean. And everything we have. There are no secrets. We share everything with each other. And Egan … am I waffling? Am I just rambling of bullshit?
Kaleb: No, no. Man dude, your good.
Alex: [laughs] I do that, man … I just bullshit on.
Egan, Egan Inoue is … um. He’s so incredible. I mean, he … I spoke to him yesterday …. I think you might be talking to him at some stage, which is amazing. But he …. he’ll tell you his journey. He came up and he was under a few different Senseis ….a few different professors, when he came up. And …. and I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it, but he has this real sort of egalitarian, like open-minded approach to training.
And like, there’s a lot of schools that you walk in and they’re like, “If you train here, if we ever hear you train anywhere else you’re done … you’re done”. And God bless them, like that’s … that’s …. that’s how they do it.
Egan’s the opposite of that. He’s like, “Go and train with everyone, man”. He’s like, “I want you all, to train with everyone. Whoever, you just be safe. Just make good choices. Go train, come back, and show me all their secrets”. And you know, and let’s break it all down.
And so, my whole Jiu-Jitsu journey, has been going out into the world and getting stuff and bringing it back.
And he’s like, and just and …. and mixing it up and playing with it. And so, yeah, no one …. and the other thing is that sort of embarrassed, humiliation that can happen really, really early on. I think anyone … any sort of higher belt. Any colored belt. If they’re seeing that happened in the gym, they … they should be like …. they should take that person aside and … and …. and say or do whatever needs to be said or done, to ensure that person has a better experience, you know. Because it’s unnecessary. And, they did it for me, and I didn’t listen. I needed to eat more shit sandwiches. And have a hard time for longer. And I did. And… but it’s … yeah, it’s …. it starts like that for a lot of people. But it passes.
Link to the full Video: