In this episode we got to interview Jon Wagner of Wagner Jiu-Jitsu Academy about how Jiu-Jitsu can offer therapeutic benefits, physical health benefits, and a philosophy which can help manage emotions and deal with life problems.
Jon Wagner holds a third degree black belt in Jiu-Jitsu, is an experienced instructor, is a veteran, and runs the Wagner Jiu-Jitsu Academy.
To learn more about the Wagner Jiu-Jitsu Academy check out: https://www.wagneracademy.com/.
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David Enevoldsen: Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Emotional Embuffination podcast. I'm your host, David Enevoldsen. And here on Emotional Embuffination, we are training to become emotionally buff enough to overcome any conflict in life. And just as importantly, we're trying to discover new levels of success and happiness and figure out how to perpetuate those. Keep making yourself happier and happier and just live the best life possible. This podcast is just one of a bunch of resources I have available. If you want to see some others, check out my website, the Emotional Embuffination website, which is embuffination.com. Today I get the pleasure of interviewing John Wagner, who knows a lot about Jiu-Jitsu, and we'll get into that in just a second. But the big reason that I wanted to have you on here today is that Emotional Embuffination, in my mind is very much about a couple of things. One is resolving conflict and the other is emotional management. And I think that from what I understand, Jiu-Jitsu offers both of those things. In terms of a model, would you say? That's correct.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, I agree. Fully.
David Enevoldsen: Well, thank you for agreeing to interview today. Before I get into any of that, though, can you tell me a little bit about your background specifically, when did you start training in Jiu-Jitsu? Why did you start training in Jiu-Jitsu? And how long have you been doing that?
Jon Wagner: Yeah, my background. So, I really I knew what it was before I joined the military when I was 18. I think I had just seen it in the UFC, like the Gracie family kind of created the UFC and to showcase Jiu-Jitsu or their their style of Jiu-Jitsu. And I joined the military shortly after 911, the terrorist attacks, and then my job in the military, I had a combat arms job. And they taught us Jiu-Jitsu as part of our training and it was amazing. Like, I, I immediately just kind of caught the bug and realized how effective it was really quickly. And from there, I just kind of pursued more knowledge of it just because in our our job specialty, we we focused a lot on on combat. I mean, that was the main function of our job. And we did so much of it that when I got out, it was kind of it became a therapy for me in terms of my mental and emotional health. And so, I've done it on and off since about 2001. I've known what it was since about 2000. And so there have been periods of time where I wasn't doing it. And the difference for me emotionally and psychologically was vast. So, I really do it now specifically for the emotional benefits.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. Can you elaborate on that a little bit? Like, what's what was the distinction when you noticed? What it felt like on versus off.
Jon Wagner: I think. If if I verbalized it, I think the difference would be I'm more present in the moment. I get, it's almost like when you work out just doing exercise, you get stronger muscles or you get a stronger cardiovascular system. But when you're doing a martial art specifically for me, it's been Jiu-Jitsu mostly. You are forced to be present. Just by way of the difficulty of what you're doing and like developing a muscle, you kind of develop a greater ability to stay present. And it feels like to me, if the better you are at that, the more emotional control I tend to have. And when I get away from training, especially for longer periods of time, I, I lose that ability or that muscle gets weaker and it and it's harder to pull back into that and focus on staying present. So it's really just like a it's almost like a meditative practice. Where I've been really I've been really bad at meditation. I've tried so much, but it's hard for me. And Jiu-Jitsu is almost like a moving meditation for me.
David Enevoldsen: Right. And that's interesting because that's very similar to the Emotional Embuffination model, which in part incorporates physical activity on some level, but also is this idea that you're working an emotional muscle, in essence, and making it stronger. So if you're not working on it, it's not getting stronger or it starts to atrophy or something like that. So that makes a lot of sense to me. You said you Jiu-Jitsu mostly. Does that mean you've studied other martial arts or any other sort of combative arts?
Jon Wagner: Yeah. I mean, I, I just kind of became fascinated with martial arts in general. Just because I wasn't a very, like, aggressive kid. I wasn't like I wasn't a very tough kid. I got bullied a lot when I was when I was young. And then because I was always the new kid in school, my parents, we moved around quite a bit. And honestly, I didn't even realize that I was bullied until until, like, I grew up and kind of understood what bullying looked like. I just felt disempowered. I felt like there was nothing I could do to really fight back. And then once I learned. You know, some combatives some, that's what they called it in the military was combatives. Army Combatives. And it's it's really it's Jiu-Jitsu. That made me realize there was something I could do to kind of like take the power back a little bit and and have a way to stand up for myself. And so, I sought out other martial arts just because I wanted to know what was out there. And just because Jiu-Jitsu had done so much for me already in terms of kind of empowering me, I was like, okay, well, what else is there? So, I did I did quite a bit of boxing when I was in the military. I was on the boxing team where I was stationed. And then I also tried kickboxing and and judo. I learned a little bit of Aikido along the way.
Jon Wagner: There's a guy here in Arizona that teaches Aikido, and I learned some from him and I learned some wrestling and learned quite a bit of wrestling along the way, although I never I never really got into any of those arts deeply. I more was like, incorporating them into the Jiu-Jitsu that I use. And I think that's a little bit because Jiu-Jitsu just kind of fits me. Whereas, like, maybe wrestling is is a little bit different, maybe a little bit different kind of personality. It's, you know, it's a very aggressive martial art, if you want to call it that. Aikido, I thought was beautiful, but it didn't have any, it didn't have live training like I like I enjoy like the kind of live training that kind of puts me in a meditative state. And then kickboxing and boxing and stuff like that I enjoyed. But it is very violent. They are very violent ways of training, and I kind of saw from an early age that it wasn't a long term endeavor. You know, I would compete in boxing and and have really bad headaches for ten days after after getting hit hard. And so Jiu-Jitsu. It's like you. You train all of those things and then you try to train in a safe way that you take care of each other. That's kind of how I view Jiu-Jitsu. And. Yeah.
David Enevoldsen: So, acknowledging kind of these variations in terms of the fit to you, did you feel like you could get some of these same, I guess, meditative benefits from some of these other martial arts? And it's just that this one happens to fit you better? Or do you think that there's something unique in Jiu-Jitsu about that cultivates that kind of meditative process for you?
Jon Wagner: Well, I think for me, like the meditative state comes comes when you're actually doing some kind of sparring, whether it's whether it's high intensity or low intensity. The sparring aspect of Jiu-Jitsu is very can be very gentle and very safe. So, you don't feel, you don't feel like you're being bullied or beaten up by the other person unless you're training with somebody who's very intense. But you can kind of pick your training partners and train in a way that is very safe and very relaxing almost and and kind of still get a good workout. And I just haven't experienced that in many other martial arts. It's kind of either too far to the violence, violent side of the spectrum or too far to the passivity side of the spectrum where it's a little more theoretical and a little less physical work. And sometimes for me that like just kind of being in that middle area where where you're doing physical work, but it's but it's not so violent that you get hurt. It allows me to like, feel safe and be in a, achieve that kind of meditative state, I guess.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. Do you have any sense of why it's creating this meditative state or what it's what exactly is tapping into? Or do you know anything about the research underlying it or anything of that nature?
Jon Wagner: Well, I know that as far as the research is concerned, I'm aware of some studies that have been done where people with depression or PTSD are able to kind of achieve some power over over that or some, you know, emotional strength as a result of the training. And I think that it's because you're so forced to focus on what what you're doing in that moment, because you're incorporating all parts of your your body, like your your hands, your feet, you know, your neck positioning or your shoulder positioning. All of that matters when you're trying to control another person or keep that person from, you know, from hurting you. And I hesitate to say the word hurting you because we're not trying to hurt each other, but we're simulating the way somebody might try to hurt you. And if you're, it's like literally impossible to think about, you know, the dishwasher being broken at home or or the violence that you experienced in combat, for example, when you're doing something like that and it's in the rest of your life or like outside of training like that, it is really hard to find a way to to kind of relieve yourself from the demons, so to speak. And so, it's like this physical exercise that gives you the endorphins paired with a mental exercise and focus. To where it's like an assisted focus because this all of your attention is called to what you're doing right in front of you. And it's almost impossible for your mind to wander anywhere else because you're almost overwhelmed by what's happening in front of you. But it's not so violent or so extreme that you are overwhelmed. So, it's a very safe feeling. It's like a very nice balance between a psychological or like a an attention challenge and a physical challenge that it's hard it's been impossible for me to find it anywhere else.
David Enevoldsen: Does this translate out into those other scenarios? So let's say you're thinking about the whatever the example was, the dishwasher's broken or those things that are out in the rest of the world. You go and you get on the mat, you train in Jiu-Jitsu, your mind gets focused, you feel better, but then you go back to the broken dishwasher and all that. Does it translate back out into that world somehow?
Jon Wagner: Yeah, for me, I mean, absolutely. Like it turns the volume down or the intensity down on other things that you might be dealing with, whether it's like a small thing, like the dishwasher being broken or a heavy thing like the trauma that soldiers or police officers or firefighters might experience it like gives you, it, it strengthens your ability to stay present. And and because it's a practice, it's like you get in the habit of doing that, especially when you can do it on a regular basis. Like if you can manage to do it, you know, two or three times a week. It kind of to me, it has the same effect on your emotional or psychological strength as going to the gym and lifting weights has an impact on your muscular strength, and you just get better at it the more you practice it. And we don't even realize that we're practicing it really, when we're doing this. But it's just a habit that you kind of fall into. And I never really noticed that until I took time off of Jiu-Jitsu and, and, you know, struggled more with with controlling the or overcoming, you know, the demons that effect combat veterans or, you know, people who have been through serious trauma. So just over the years, I've noticed how much of an impact it's had on me in that regard. So, yeah.
David Enevoldsen: That's interesting because that seems to I know you said you're not into the meditation, at least the kind of stereotypical version of meditation we think of where you just sit there and get lost in your thoughts or whatever. Although what you're describing seems very similar to my experiences with meditation, where sometimes I will have an experience where I'm doing meditation on a regular basis because I have done a lot of meditation and I'll have somebody start yelling at me during the day after I've been doing meditation and I have this experience where I feel like I'm almost detached from the argument, and the argument seems silly and I don't feel worked up by it, which sounds very similar to what you're describing. It's almost like you get strengthened in terms of how how big this argument seems to be or what kind of you're going to have in your life. So, it does seem like meditation, but on the mat instead of.
Jon Wagner: I mean, I think that this can this kind of thing can be achieved through doing other activities. I mean, I think meditation is a great one because you can just kind of pick a quiet if you can find a quiet space and and where you're not going to be interrupted. It's a great practice and I have done it a lot over the years with therapists and stuff like that. But it is it's really hard. It is a tough concept. And to be blunt, it's it's just hard to fully grasp, you know. I think it takes a lot of practice to get good at meditation. And, I don't have the patience. You know, it helps to have somebody guiding you a lot, I think, when you're doing that. But, for me, just as a physical person, just, you know, I've always been interested in sports and stuff like that, and it's easiest for me to achieve a flow state when I'm doing something that kind of requires all my attention. And the flow state is really what I'm looking to achieve because it's impossible to think about other stuff and worry and stress and and feel pressure when you're in flow.
David Enevoldsen: Right. Let me let me circle back to you made reference a couple of times to kind of PTSD and things vets are dealing with combat trauma, that kind of thing. Did you have, do you know people because obviously you had a military background, did you know people that were dealing with that kind of thing or were you dealing with that directly? What's the backdrop for you with that?
Jon Wagner: Yeah. I mean, I, aside from my personal struggles. I know, I know, I know a multitude of people who struggle with that. Men and women, men and women that I was in combat with. And it's just something that, I think I think it affects all all people who experience like real combat. I think a lot of people, everybody deals with it in different ways.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Jon Wagner: But I think that if you go into it and you experience stuff like combat or a police shootout or a bad fire or something like that, you're going to have maybe not a disorder, but you're going to you're going to struggle with the stress that going through something like that causes especially long-term if you don't deal with it. It just gets worse and worse. And, you know, I, I know war veterans from different eras just through the therapy and stuff that I've been through who didn't deal with it until they were more advanced in age. Just because I think we didn't understand it as well in their generations. And, you know, I see them in advanced age struggling a lot. You know, and I think that they just put it off for so long that they have, it's like they're really far behind the power curve there.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Jon Wagner: And, you know, the guys that I know who have done things like Jiu-Jitsu or or really immerse themselves in another endeavor have the best chance I think, of of coping with it in a healthy way and not falling into the vices that can really lead to really dire outcomes and a lot of pain and and relationship damage and all that kind of thing.
David Enevoldsen: That's interesting. I have, so as an attorney, I do a lot of criminal work. And one of the things that I see there is we have in different parts of the Phoenix area, we've got what they call Vet Court. Which is the focus of that is to take somebody who is a veteran, who is being accused of some sort of criminal activity. And the theory is that very often, I think, especially when you have combat-type situations and you take a vet, they're out there training to essentially just go out and combat and suppress your emotions. Shut up, get the job done, go out there, fight, come back, be good for your team. Don't sit there and whine about things. And then we just throw them back into society after they've been facing some sort of crazy trauma. And one of the often inevitable results is, as you said, you can have mental health problems, you can have people acting out in criminal activity. And so the theory with the Vet Courts is we're trying to catch those people and kind of line them up with some sort of help, make sure that they're re-orienting, hopefully soften the blow on the criminal case and then get them back on track.
Jon Wagner: That's amazing.
David Enevoldsen: They put up some time essentially serving their country. We want to give them back in some way. So, it's been a really fascinating view into some of the trauma that can happen to vets. And just in terms of the underlying mindset on top of simply seeing some things in combat. So, I've definitely seen that. I haven't heard in that context Jiu-Jitsu as a remedy. I've heard lots of things like counseling and trying to get people jobs and all these other kind of traditional mechanisms. But you have seen other people that you either knew were in combat or saw in combat that have kind of gone down the Jiu-Jitsu road as well. And.
Jon Wagner: Oh, yeah, yeah. I know personally, one of the guys I was in combat with is another black belt who it's the same. I mean, when we talk about it, it's the same thing. It's like, if I didn't have Jiu-Jitsu, I'm not sure where I'd be or what I'd be doing, because we we both know other guys and other other people who struggle with it so much that they deal with it in unhealthy ways because they don't have anything to latch onto that can kind of call them back to reality in a safe way. You know, like, I mean, we have like this culture in the military, you know, I've been out for a while now, but when I was in, we had this culture of, you know, don't go to sick call, don't talk to counselors. Don't, don't be that person. Because.
David Enevoldsen: It's weakness.
Jon Wagner: Yeah. Yeah. And it's it's not healthy to have that kind of weakness in a platoon.
David Enevoldsen: Well, I meant it's perceived as weakness.
Jon Wagner: Right. It's perceived as.
David Enevoldsen: Weakness as it comes.
Jon Wagner: We want that, yeah, we want that out. We don't want that as part of the as part of a platoon. And, you know, maybe in in different communities, maybe like in the special operations community or something, they're more supportive of that. I don't know. But I was I was a cavalry scout. I wasn't like a Navy SEAL or something like that. And maybe that community is so specialized that they can they or they're more comfortable seeking out help when they're struggling with something. But I know just in my experience, we mocked that that kind of that idea of of going and asking for help. And I still feel uncomfortable going and talking to a counselor. You know, it's like goes against, it goes against my instincts. But I still need a lot of help. You know, Jiu-Jitsu and the Jiu-Jitsu philosophy, I think, is in line with what a lot of counselors do. And in terms of, in terms of finding a healthy balance and having healthy physical habits and then trying to find trying to achieve a flow state and having good emotional balance. So, it is it is a therapy for me, and I feel more comfortable doing that kind of therapy than talk therapy, for example.
David Enevoldsen: Right. Is is there is there more to the philosophy than just kind of that meditative state? I mean, you made reference to kind of the Jiu-Jitsu philosophy and kind of I forget the language you use, but is there more to it than just I'm getting on the mat and rolling around and in that meditative state or.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the rolling around and stuff is is, it's kind of like, it's a it's a non, I guess philosophy and stuff gets so heady, you know, it gets so.
David Enevoldsen: Which I tend to do.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, it gets heady. And and I think for a lot of people that can be the biggest problem when you're like stuck, stuck sitting there with these intrusive, painful thoughts. It's almost it's like you need to get it's like you need to get out of the headspace. And so that rolling around and stuff, especially when I've been in times of deep emotional crisis it's served as kind of a medicine that works almost instantly. You know, it can find somebody that I trust and and get on the get on the mats with them and and no talking. There's no, there's no thinking. It's just movement and and empty mind you know, as the Japanese would describe it. And it's a very you can find peace, at least for that 30 or 40 minutes or an hour that you're that you're doing that movement. And then you're so exhausted at the end that you can rest. And, so, but outside of that, the Jiu-Jitsu philosophy is a heady thing. I mean, I'm trying to think of a better word than that. But it is something that you can study and think about. And it's it's a very positive thing because it's all about peace.
Jon Wagner: And for somebody who's been exposed to violence and programed to be comfortable with violence, the philosophy of peace can bring you peace. It can bring you emotional peace and calm and I think that's a very important side of it, too. I mean, that's I think that's what a lot of counselors try to do is help you work through that the pain and find peace. And, you know, being immersed in the philosophy of peace, like how do you achieve peace is a very healthy thing. It's just that if that's the only side of it for me and there's no physical pursuit or physical action, it's it's too theoretical. And I get, maybe I'm not smart enough, but it's not enough for me to just think about how am I going to overcome this pain or how am I going to overcome this, this trauma that won't leave me. And so the blend, the balance of the physical and the mental or psychological do do a lot for me that, you know, I don't think, I'm not sure that I could otherwise achieve through doing other things like other kinds of therapy.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah. Well, and I'm not sure that that's a function of not being smart enough. Just my thought as a reaction to this. I, I feel like I keep increasingly seeing so much research around physicality and doing things on a physical level. And then I also just if I get more philosophical about it, I tend to think also of there's a difference between just talking about something and experiencing something. And I feel like to a certain extent what I'm hearing is Jiu-Jitsu becomes a good model for actually injecting yourself into the experiential because you're combining these different things as opposed to just, I'm sitting around talking philosophy and I'm talking to my therapist and all sounds nice when I'm sitting in the therapist's office, but then I walk out in the world and then it's a totally different game. So it resonating with me. It makes sense. I don't think it's an issue of not being intelligent enough or anything like that, but yeah.
Jon Wagner: Yeah. Yeah, I see what you're saying. I guess what I meant is that. It's when I think about stuff too much, I begin to ruminate.
David Enevoldsen: Right.
Jon Wagner: You know, and that can lead to a dark place for me. And so, that, the philosophical side is so important. But I think that, yeah, the physical side is equally important and, and the two married together is very potent, it's very powerful. And I think like doing woodworking or, or yoga or, you know, any number of other physical activities combined with some kind of psychological practice or, or philosophical practice could do the same thing for for people as a matter of finding which what kind of thing is effective for the individual.
David Enevoldsen: You made reference earlier to some of the more violent perspectives on Jiu-Jitsu, I guess. Do you feel like there are different schools of thought? I'm sure there are different schools of thought within the Jiu-Jitsu community. Do you find that some of them are more conducive to some of these, I guess, beneficial outcomes in general life than others? And if so, what's the distinction?
Jon Wagner: Yeah, I, I think every martial art kind of exists on this spectrum of in terms of the practice of violence. I mean, the term martial art is really just means like combat art. And, you know, I think there are any number of different ways to practice that, you know. For some people it makes sense to to practice their martial art in in a very violent way. Like MMA, fighters tend to tend to spar very hard and, you know, their training is very violent because they're preparing for something. And that makes sense. They're preparing. That's their job. They're trying to make money by getting good at this particular ruleset. And training in that way is dangerous and violent. And for other people, you know, something on the complete opposite end of the spectrum, like Tai Chi, it's it's, you know, typically practiced in a very nonviolent way. In the Jiu-Jitsu community, um, people, people kind of you have this even a broad spectrum within the Jiu-Jitsu community where some people train very violently, you know, because maybe they're focused on getting ready for a competition where they're going to compete against other people who are going to be going at them 100%.
Jon Wagner: And you also have other styles of practice where you're really more just trying to develop good reflexes. And that's kind of like where I land, I think, is I really just I like the practice of trying to develop good reflexes under safe conditions so that I think it makes me feel safer. Like it's almost like exposure therapy where you're kind of getting small doses of simulated violence that it's that is so safe that you you can't get hurt or traumatized by doing it, but you get enough exposure to where you become comfortable, you know, being in being in like a dangerous situation, you become kind of inoculated to it because it's not actually dangerous. You're just simulating it. And that's kind of how I prefer to train, but you know, it's it's it's to me, it's like it's all good. What whatever fits your personality fits where you are in life. And, you know, psychologically, whatever it is, whatever style of training it is that you need, you should find that because it's I think it's going to improve your life no matter who you are. So.
David Enevoldsen: Sure. The, so is the 753 Code is that something that you promote?
Jon Wagner: Yeah, absolutely.
David Enevoldsen: Can you explain what that is? And does that have relevance to our discussion here?
Jon Wagner: I mean, I personally I think the 753 Code is the most important part of Jiu-Jitsu, I think. I mean, like, I didn't develop that. That's something that I learned from the Valente Brothers who are teachers in Florida. And they run what is, in my opinion, one of the best training centers in the world. And their focus is the practice of Jiu-Jitsu is self-defense and the 753 code is, basically the psychological application. So, everything that that they do falls is falls under the umbrella of this idea that victory is achieved. Peace is the definition of victory. And that comes from the 753 Code. Doing the right thing. Being courageous. Being respectful. Being benevolent. That, like all these concepts that are organized through the 753 Code, inform your practice. Whether it's the way you eat, whether it's the way you train, whether it's the way you conduct yourself. You know that that all falls under the umbrella of the 753 Code, which is ultimately it's the Bushido code organized into a kind of teachable and understandable practicable format for like a normal person. So even the way we we practice the movements of physical Jiu-Jitsu, it's guided by the 753 Code.
David Enevoldsen: Why is it called that, the 753 Code?
Jon Wagner: It's the seven virtues of a warrior. So rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honesty, honor and loyalty. And then it's the five states or the five practices of a healthy body. So rest, exercise, nutrition, hygiene, these are the these are the practices that we understand now, I mean, especially now with like medicine, it's basically confirming all these beliefs that lead to a healthy state, physical, healthy, physical state. And then it's the three states of mind of a an optimized mind which are awareness, balance, and flow.
David Enevoldsen: Interesting. And that here again, that seems to line up with the science and many of the themes that I'm pushing with the Emotional Embuffination. In fact, I even have on my my home page, I have a little checklist of if things aren't going right, here's a bunch of categories of life you can sweep through. And I've kind of broken them up into like three different areas. And it's similar, not the same, but it's like your body physical stuff that's going on with it, your mindset, and then environmental things, you know, what's going on around you and how you're interfacing with it. So not exactly the same, but kind of the same general concepts. And those are rooted in a lot of the modern research that we're seeing. So...
Jon Wagner: I think you know what you're doing. I mean, you could overlay that on the 753 Code and it's really just a it's kind of like just another way of saying things.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Jon Wagner: And you find as with anything, when somebody when somebody is teaching you or coaching you, you could have one person saying, saying, getting to the same point and then another coach come in and say it the same point just in a different way.
David Enevoldsen: And it's differently heard.
Jon Wagner: And yeah, and it just makes sense for one person. And I think one I missed I don't know if I mentioned this, but one of the points of physical health is the idea of positivity and and having a, you know, a positive outlook that is really something that is affects your physical health as well. And, you know, I've noticed that personally over the years as well. And, you know, that's another I think part of Emotional Embuffination as well is, you know, having a positive outlook because it not only affects your emotional health, but it affects your physical health on a very deep level. So, you know, all these concepts, I think, you know, if you kind of zoom out, they're all the same. It's just, you know, does the way this person say it or teach it resonate with me? And I love what you're doing because, you know, I've I've told other people about it and they're like, "Wow, I love that word, you know, Emotional Embuffination. I've never heard I've never heard that."
David Enevoldsen: Well thank you.
Jon Wagner: I like it because it's it sends a message that this is something you can get stronger at, like you're exercising your bicep or something. And it's a matter of practicing, it's a matter of training. And even if you when you start out. You're very weak at it. You can improve over time and become much stronger. And I think that's really what, I'm sorry to continue my rant.
David Enevoldsen: No, that's kind of the point this, right? To go on rants.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, I'd like to just one more thing on that. I think as with any new practice when you first start out you, it's almost like you you're your ability in that practice goes down below what it would have been if you didn't begin studying it. And and I think a lot of people get discouraged in terms of like especially with like counseling or therapy. You start it and after a few weeks, it's like you're still dealing with the same problems and and you give up. And if you would have just hung in there for a little while longer and continued the practice, eventually you would hit this uptick to where you have exponential gains off of that practice. And you know that I think that applies to everything like Jiu-Jitsu, or exercise, or learning a new skill, or learning a new language, or or, you know, learning how to control or or to take a more active role in managing your emotions. And I think that's why I've I've been unsuccessful in a lot of other therapies and have been so successful with this Jiu-Jitsu therapy is because I had another reason to to go through it, because I enjoy physical, the physical movement, you know. So.
David Enevoldsen: And I really like this paradigm that you're offering in terms of there's these different mechanisms we can use that are all sort of touching on the same basic principles. But one might resonate with you differently. Like maybe Jiu-Jitsu just does not work for me and I go and find Tai Chi or I do counseling or something else out there that clicks with me. But for some people, Jiu-Jitsu is the way. That's that's the one that clicks and that's the one that resonates. So that I like that paradigm because that seems to fit with, again, many of the themes I've had, which is more just get the basic concepts in there and then figure out how to connect to them in a way that makes sense for you.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, I think that the the difference that Jiu-Jitsu kind of has, I mean, the way that I practice it is that the philosophy guides the practice. You know, like if your hobby is, you know, woodworking or something like that, I think it can be super beneficial, but there's but there's not as far as I'm aware, a structured philosophy that kind of guides the way you practice that. And I think that's also the case for a lot of Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, is that they're not even aware that there's a the 753 Code or or, you know, the Bushido Code, or at least they don't study it. Because I know a lot of practitioners who have no idea what it is, and that's fine because they're still getting the benefits from the physical practice of Jiu-Jitsu. But I think if you ignore that philosophical side of Jiu-Jitsu, you're missing out on a lot. And for me, it's that like structured approach to the philosophical side that helps me so much. You know, the physical the physical practice partnered with that philosophical practice kind of gives me a complete approach or a complete thing to hold on to that that I can kind of work with in every aspect, every other aspect of my life.
David Enevoldsen: And I'm looking at the clock. I know we're kind of running high on time here. So just a couple more questions in this sort of tone of the art connecting to different people and some of the benefits that are here, I often have, and I think Jiu-Jitsu has sort of a perspective or perception stereotype of being just for guys, you know, just for those really testosterone-heavy masculine types. I mean, do you feel that's true? I mean, this is this open to women or kids, other other types that are not quite so driven by testosterone, maybe.
Jon Wagner: Yeah, I mean, it's funny because kind of really like the the most popular pioneer of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was this guy, Hélio Gracie. And he always said, you know, Jiu-Jitsu is for people who are a little more at risk of violence, for example. So, women, children, you know, I think have.
David Enevoldsen: Being the targets of violence.
Jon Wagner: Yeah. Thank you. Thank you for thank you for correcting me. I mean, he said it in a different way, but but Jiu-Jitsu is really meant to empower people who are afraid. I mean, empower people who are uncomfortable. Like, you know it, that's what I experienced with it. And, you know, because I got bullied growing up and then being in the military, it was to be honest, I was scared. Like.
David Enevoldsen: Yeah.
Jon Wagner: It was it was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. And Jiu-Jitsu kind of gave me this, like, control. And it's so effective as a martial art that it took away a lot of my fear around, you know, around physical combat. But, you know, the likelihood of somebody being in a real fight is relatively low.
David Enevoldsen: Sure.
Jon Wagner: The likelihood of somebody being attacked is relatively low. But practicing, you know, or simulating fighting in some way is is very empowering because you get comfortable, you start to understand what is actually dangerous. You know, like I said earlier, you kind of get inoculated and and you become comfortable in your own skin. So I think, you know, if I could give a gift to anyone, whether it's like a child or a a father or a woman or a grandparent or whoever, it would be Jiu-Jitsu, because I see how empowering it is every time I see somebody who does it. You know, we discuss it and it's like the transformative benefits of learning it, whether you're a man or a woman or whatever, a child or somebody who's in more advanced age is just it's very empowering. You become more confident, you become more comfortable, and it's very therapeutic. It's very cathartic. And it has a reputation of being for big, strong brutes because it has become a sport and the sport is beautiful.
Jon Wagner: I love the sport of Jiu-Jitsu, but that's that is one aspect of the practice of Jiu-Jitsu that has just grown in popularity over the years for a variety of reasons. But it's one aspect of Jiu-Jitsu. You know, it's mainly the grappling aspect of Jiu-Jitsu, which is a lot of fun. But, you know, the there's other aspects striking, take throwing, defense against weapons. Those are other aspects of the physical practice of Jiu-Jitsu. And then the philosophical side,
David Enevoldsen: Right,
Jon Wagner: Is also another aspect. And it's arguably the most important because when you're laying in bed at the end of your life battling cancer, you can't practice Jiu-Jitsu. I mean, you can't practice the physical side of Jiu-Jitsu just because you're so physically weak. So having the philosophical side, you can continue your practice of Jiu-Jitsu even when you're not doing the physical stuff, and it can give you hope. You know where there is no hope, otherwise. It can give you something to latch on to and and use as a shield and something to study, something to focus on, something to work on. And when you're laying there and you have nothing to do but ruminate, nothing to do but think about, you know, how did this happen or where did this come from or, you know, where did I go wrong? The practice of the philosophical side of Jiu-Jitsu can be hugely beneficial, be massively beneficial and help you work through that regardless of the outcome. You know that you did everything that you could at the end.
David Enevoldsen: Right. All right. Last substantive question, and just because I'm going to ask everybody this when I'm doing interviews now, but I think I know what your answer is going to be already. But if you could offer one piece of advice to people about emotional health or strength, what would that be? Not just practice Jiu-Jitsu?
Jon Wagner: I would say, find something to to be responsible for. And commit yourself fully to taking to doing that thing or taking care of that thing in the best way possible, the best way that you know how. And and, you know, it could be a very small thing. But pick something and commit to being responsible for it and taking care of that thing or doing that thing in the best way that you can manage. And don't worry about how other people do it or don't worry about being judged. But do it in the best way that you can.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. That was way deeper than what I had in my head. That was really, that's awesome. And so you run a Jiu-Jitsu school, correct?
Jon Wagner: Yes, I do now. Just started.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. If if somebody wants to reach out to you or kind of learn more about your school, what can they do?
Jon Wagner: I would love it if people would follow our Instagram. If you're on Instagram, it's WagnerJJAcademy, that's W-A-G-N-E-R JJ Academy. And we're on Facebook at the same handle. And our website is wagneracademy.com.
David Enevoldsen: Okay. Awesome. Thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it. This has been super interesting to me. I thank you for agreeing to do the interview and I guess any words of parting words of wisdom?
Jon Wagner: I just want to say thank you and and I love what you're doing with the Emotional Embuffination stuff. I think as it grows, you're going to touch a lot of lives and a lot of people in a positive way. And I, I just want to let you know that I really enjoy our discussions. I get a lot out of it. So thank you very much.
David Enevoldsen: I appreciate that also. All right. Well, I guess we'll wrap it up there then.
Jon Wagner: All right.
David Enevoldsen: That brings us to the end of today's show. I hope you found this useful and interesting and you can take something away as just some little nugget to help make your life better or the lives of the people around you better. Remember, keep becoming more emotionally embuffed all the time. You don't just go to the gym one time, do one rep of something and say you're buff forever. You just keep going and going and getting stronger and stronger. At the end of the day, we want you to be emotionally strong enough to go from saying, "The struggle is real," to saying, "What struggle?" Thanks for listening. Hope you have a great week and see you next time.