Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Mike “the Spider-Ninja” Bidwell – Part 2
Mike “the Spider-Ninja” Bidwell is a Bjj Blackbelt who teaches out of Tai-Kai Martial Arts / Team Balance.
Mike “the Spider-Ninja” is perhaps best known for his innovative and creative techniques which he films and shares through his BJJafter40.com
Mike talks about his philosophy of training, his approach to innovation and on REALLY being a Ninja!
“To me Jiu-Jitsu is like a beautiful painting that’s alive and in three dimensions with so many moving parts… ”
5) Jiu-jitsu Times: Interestingly, you were a BJJ brown belt from 2001 to 2014 – 13 Years.
That is an unusual period at one belt.
What were the factors in you staying a brown for such a long period and how did you break through finally to the black belt?
Mike Bidwell: Yes, I spent over a decade at one belt.
When I think back I can’t believe that much time passed at brown belt.
For me it was a case of stalled momentum and allowing myself to wallow in that vibration.
I started eating crappy and not training as much as I wanted due to old injuries.
I just got in a negative cycle and my progress basically stalled.
I reached a point where I was either going to continue BJJ and earn a black belt or quit.
At the time, I seriously considered quitting martial arts altogether.
I eventually sought the advice of some respected friends and mentors in my BJJ community.
The consensus was that I needed to get my *** in shape. Start by building the best possible vessel!
At that time I was also suffering from terrible digestion problems and devastating IBS (Irritable Bowl Syndrome).
I would often miss a week or more a month of training due to my food issues. I went about dismantling my eating and training programs.
I switched to an almost entirely plant based diet.
I lost close to fifty pounds, got in the best shape of my life and earned my BJJ black belt from my close friend and mentor Ken Kronenberg in January of 2014.
6) Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you share some of your philosophy of jiu-jitsu training?
What messages do you try to communicate to your students about training?
How do the lessons of the mat come into play in your life outside the academy?
My philosophy is quite simple: Flow You.
Jiu-Jitsu allows for deep creativity and personal insight.
We get to develop whatever BJJ game speaks to us and have whatever experience we want on the mats which translates to us being ourselves at whatever level we seek.
Jiu-Jitsu allows us to get to know ourselves at this very deep level.
When you’re being squished and someone’s sweat is dripping in your face and you some how pull it together and escape and survive…how can that now have relevance to your life off the mats?
One of my favorite quotes from Aristotle is so simple and yet so profound, “Know thy self”.
For me Jiu-Jitsu has become a quest towards dissolving the ego and getting to know my true self and living in that vibration.
For so many, Jiu-Jitsu becomes so much more than a physical experience but a path towards self-mastery.
For me the fun part about Jiu-Jitsu is taking things apart, restructuring and rebuilding them stronger.
Sometimes that happens on a deep psychological level too.
We begin to peel back old layers and truly get to know who we really are and when we connect to our true self we can now connect to other people on a much deeper level.
I think that’s what really attracts people to Jiu-Jitsu…people always describe BJJ training and say that, “they lose the sense of time and they forget all of life troubles and distractions and everything becomes quieter…and so on.”
To me that’s the equivalent of a mini-enlightenment!
To me to be “enlightened” is acting and existing completely in the present moment…it’s a sense of oneness.
Jiu-Jitsu brings a sense of peace and oneness…even if it’s but a brief moment in a world that’s so hectic and crazy at times!
7) Jiu-jitsu Times: You have released quite a number of interesting, innovative technique videos.
Ninja Back Take and “Evil Ninja Choke”
What drives you to innovate and seek variations on the different jiu-jitsu positions?
Which high level jiu-jitsu competitors / instructors inspire you?
Mike Bidwell: I’m a natural tinkerer… I like to take **** apart…restructure it…rearrange the angles and have fun with them.
I like what Picasso says, “I begin with an idea and I create something else.”
To me Jiu-Jitsu is like a beautiful painting that’s alive and in three dimensions with so many moving parts…
When two people can do it well together and connect and flow… it becomes art.
So I love this dichotomy of art and war being played out…for me, this is the art in ‘martial art’.
Jiu-jitsu Times: What is your Bjj game?
Mike Bidwell: My game is never the same. It’s ever changing and hopefully ever evolving.
I would say it’s very unpredictable and maybe a little crazy for some…but it’s my game!
I flow me 100% of the time. I am always open to learning and growth and I never turn anything away.
I feel I have some strong old school roots but I’m always pushing the boundaries and trying to discover something new for myself.
Jiu-Jitsu never stops giving if you never stop looking. So I guess I’m always looking.
Jiu-jitsu Times: I love Roger Gracie Black Belt Nic Gregoriades.
Nic has a great conceptual teaching style that translates really well to any skill level.
His website: www.Jiu-jitsubrotherhood.com has great content and a great positive message.
I am also very inspired by movements more than Jiu-Jitsu moves.
I love the idea of finding mastery through movement. Things like Parkour, breakdancing and yoga are all very interesting to me.
Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that most Jiu-jitsu Times readers would not know?
Mike Bidwell: **I am a black belt in Ninjutsu. So technically I am a Ninja!
Jiu-jitsu Times: Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on / competitions or events that you are preparing for ?
Mike Bidwell: I am working on a big Jiu-Jitsu related project that I will announce in the coming weeks!
Be sure to check out my awesome sponsor Origin BJJ and take a look at the upcoming Origin Immersion Camp in August in beautiful Maine.
I will be unleashing all kinds of Ninja moves at this years camp!
Video: Entanglement Choke