Janelle - You're listening to Staying In The Game, a Plum Dragon Herbs podcast where we have conversations about mindset and techniques for staying at the top of your game. I'm your host, Janelle Leatherwood. Today we've got a great show with Eli Knight who's a second degree black belt in Jiujitsu, and his technique videos have become wildly popular on YouTube. We'll be talking about a lot of important topics in our show today, including how martial arts can have an amazing effect on our mental health. So, without further ado, let's go ahead and dive right in. Thanks so much for coming on our show today, Eli, we're really happy to have you here with us, and if you could just kind of give people a little bit about your background, I think that'll be helpful.

Eli - Oh, so I'm Eli Knight and I do primarily Jiujitsu. I teach and train martial arts and I have for most of my life, going on about 25 years or so now that I've been training and I started with more, let's see, I started from everything from Taekwondo to Japanese-style Jiujitsu, to Filipino martial arts, Muay Thai, Tai Chi for a period of time. I've done a lot of things, Indonesian Silat, but the thing that's really resonated with me more than anything and speaks to me more than anything is Jiu-Jitsu, particularly from the Japanese via Brazil paradigm, and so now I teach at my home base academy Three Rivers Martial Arts in Kentucky, and also do a lot of traveling to go to seminars, and different kind of training events and things like that. So, it's basically my background as far as anybody really cares about me, so. And I do a lot of online stuff. I have a YouTube channel that's where I get the most exposure probably from people, and then from social media things I try to put a lot of online training and I put up a lot of my classes that I teach up on my Patreon and things like that, so. That's basically it for me.

Janelle - Yeah. Yes, that's so exciting how you've been able to grow your YouTube following so rapidly. What are you at now, 150,000 or more or close?

Eli - I think it's almost 140, almost 140,000 I think. So, it's, yeah, I've been very fortunate, and extremely grateful for the growth that has happened. It's funny because I've had this YouTube channel since YouTube was basically a thing, and so technically speaking I've had it a long time, but the growth only happened in the past probably two to two and a half years is whenever the channel really started to take off, because about two to two and a half years it was sitting around five or 6,000 subscribers, and then now to be 140,000 it's, you know, it was kind of startling to me, but like I said, I'm very grateful. I'm trying to keep doing the best that I can at it. I decided a long time ago that I never wanted to really leave my home base academy. I don't own the academy, and people are always asking me and have always asked me, do you have any desire to like start your own school, your own kind of brick and mortar facility, and my answer's usually been, no. Like I don't really want to move away to start one, and I don't wanna compete with the academy that I teach at, where I'm the senior supervising instructor. So, I figured you kind of, if I'm gonna grow where I'm planted, then I'm gonna have to figure out kind of creative ways to do it, and so that's why I've tried to branch out and go travel more, to do more online, like that.

Janelle - Yeah, and that must be really gratifying that you can reach people in all places of the world who maybe don't have access to a Jiujitsu gym.

Eli - Yeah. It does, it blows me away. I get messages every day from people all over the world, and it's one of the most beautiful things about social media when it functions the way it's supposed to, is that when people see a video that I put up, and they send me a message to tell me they appreciate it and that they learned from it, and that they watch my videos to train along with, because they don't have access otherwise. So, whenever I get messages like that from India, or from Africa or from Switzerland, you know, I mean, it's really a gratifying thing too in that regard, and so it makes me feel really careful, in that I need to be very responsible with what I put out, and a message that I portray to people, and that I don't mislead anyone, so.

Janelle - Yeah, yeah, that's great. What a great thing to be out there in the day of harmful social media effects and different things like that to have a great reason to get online, and probably be good influence to you as well as adults and families, yeah.

Eli - Yeah, I try to be as positive as possible with it, and try to be as responsible as well, because there's a lot of garbage , and there's a lot of misleading information, there's a lot of dangerous things that people put online without any kind of thought of the repercussions that it's gonna have to the people that are seeing that kind of information, that don't know any better. So, I try to frame things the right way, and try to be as careful as I can with the information that I present to people.

Janelle - Yeah, yeah, that's great. Now tell me how did you start into martial arts. Did you get into it at a young age and what was the reason?

Eli - I mean, like most kids, I was always fascinated with it. Growing up, I was born in the mid-70s, so like my childhood was the '80s and up through the '90s, and being fascinated with martial arts movies of course, anything from Kung Fu theater up to like Van Damme and Steven Seagal movies, and just all of it was just interesting like it is to most people. I never really did martial arts as a kid. I took some Karate classes for a short period of time. We didn't really have a lot of access to a lot of different martial arts in the area that I lived. So, I started with Taekwondo which was about the only thing available to my knowledge, and I would continue with Taekwondo for almost two years. In that time, during a later part of it, I transitioned to, I met the teacher that actually currently still work along him now, and his name is Jason Hawkins, and he was doing what I wanted to be doing that I didn't even know, and he was cross-training all kinds of different things. From that man I learned so much, and we, going from being his student to more of a peer role, I still consider him my teacher in a lot of ways to this very day, but he taught me a whole lot, and he really opened my mind, and really expanded my perspective about martial arts and so I always wanna make sure that I always mention to everybody how grateful I am for him, and I literally he's about 50 feet away from me right now. Like he's teaching a lesson, so.

Janelle - How cool.

Eli - So, I've been very fortunate to maintain that relationship, and work alongside him over the years, but with him I started training in Jiujitsu, and it was a little more like a traditional style of Jiujitsu actually before the UFC came out, and Gracie Jiujitsu became a very popular thing, and once it did, we started to study Gracie Jiujitsu under Royce Gracie, and we would go wherever we could to train with him, while still staying residents in Kentucky, and we'd go see him at seminars, we'd go to camps, we'd travel to see him and train with him. Then we'd come back and we'd train the information amongst ourselves and we did this for years, and eventually became a training affiliate under him, and we still maintain a relationship as a Royce Gracie network to this day. So, all of my rank is coming directly from Royce. In the meantime and with Jason I was still, like I mentioned, the other martial arts that we were training, and as far as like Filipino martial arts, Jason is big into traditional Chinese martial arts as well as far as Alvin John, he's a instructor of Dan Inosanto with G Kondole Filipino martial arts. So, I've always got to cross the resource to that, even though I don't train that as regularly as, not regularly enough to say that I train the most things to this day, but I do have a kind of cost that resource of that, so it's been really helpful. So, I try not to, I've never been one for being, I appreciate the traditionalism, of traditional martial arts, and I really have a deep like appreciation for all things martial arts, but I've always been kind of opposed to being too stuck in the tradition, as to not branch out to other things, and to see how exploring other avenues, and other styles and systems can enhance your practice, because there's a lot of cross platform application across different martial arts, and whenever you see that, to me that points out validation more than it points out any kind of conflict. If I see something that pops up in an Indonesian style versus a Chinese style versus a Japanese style, I don't immedediately look for well, who did this first, and who does it best? It's to me validation of, it's validation of that as a practical thing, that's a necessary thing, that's an important thing. So, that, like I said, I think that that has really helped to color the approach that I take to teaching to this day too, if I wanna help get the best information to people for what their needs and their purposes are.

Janelle - Yeah, I wanted to talk a minute about something that is near and dear to my heart as well, but just how martial arts can have an impact on our mental health, and my own brother actually committed suicide several years ago.

Eli - I'm sorry.

Janelle - And it's something, yeah, thank you, it's something that is still a battle for many close members of my own family. So, I don't know, I know Eli from, I'm sorry, I know that JD was talking about last week in our interview how he'd been involved with some organizations to try and bring awareness to that, him as a veteran and stuff. I don't know if you've been involved with that as well, but also, I thought you might be able to speak a little bit to your youth, then what some of the struggles were like for you, and how martial arts has helped you.

Eli - Okay, yeah. I've been doing this long enough, and worked with enough people as a student capacity, and as training peer capacity to really see a lot of benefits that on so many different levels of mental health, emotional health, emotional wellbeing that are pervasive, and martial arts study and practice. Speaking particularly for myself, from the Jiujitsu side of things, I think that any physical practice can have, when tempered the right way, can have a very significant impact on people's emotional health and wellbeing, and their mental health and wellbeing. I think that the mind-body connection is an extremely important thing that is often overlooked, especially in traditional modern medicine. I think, if you go into a lot of times, unfortunately if you go in to see a psychiatrist or psychologist, I don't wanna speak out of term, but I think a lot of times they wanna throw medicine at things a little too quickly. I think that without, you're feeding things from the backend a lot of the time. Rather than preventive things, things like health and exercise, watching your diet, watching your nutrition, watching your physical practice, those things can be a lot more beneficial. So, from a personal perspective I know that that's, that was the main thing that really, that the whole reason that I got into martial arts when I did, like I said, I was always fascinated with it, but I didn't have a real desire. I was kind of dragged to my first few classes, honestly, and then I got immersed into it, but what had really happened to get me involved in the first place was , excuse me, is my sister whenever I was around 13 years old, 14 years old, my sister died in a car wreck, and that had a very traumatic effect on me, because she was very, well, we were very close like I was closer to her than anyone else in the world, and so, when that happened, I was sitting through really beyond, is obviously a depression, there was like a existential kind of depression, I didn't know what to do, what do make of anything, so. When I had a couple of friends that kind of took me in to this, the martial arts class whenever I was able to function at all, and that gave me kind of an outlet. It gave me something physical to do. I wasn't terribly physical aside from my skateboarding at the time, and that helped me in a lot of ways. Then especially whenever I met Jason Hawkins, and I started training the other arts, it got very, you can get into almost kind of a meditative practice with it, it's like a physical moving meditation, because my head was in no condition to sit and try to meditate or try to reflect on anything. I wanted something to quiet down the voices in my head. I wanted something to calm me and to still me, but that wasn't gonna come from being calm and still for me. It was gonna come from being active, from getting out, moving.

Janelle - Yeah.

Eli - And Jiujitsu especially like, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Janelle - Oh, I was just gonna say, it seems kind of counterintuitive, that's this like aggressive sport can actually do that, but it actually does make you feel more calm and have a better mindset about things. Maybe it's getting that aggression out in a more disciplined way or getting, refocusing that energy.

Eli - Well, I had to think about. Yeah, I've had a think about that a lot too, particularly with combative arts, with combat sports and combat arts. What it is is that you have to be in the moment. I think that one of the most like healthy things you can do for yourself psychologically and mentally, emotionally is to be present, in the moment, not with your head somewhere in the clouds or thinking too much about the mistake that you made, or the worry about what you're gonna have to deal with later. It's about immediacy and the moment, and for me, I haven't seen anything as good for doing that is combat sports and combat arts. So, with the practice of Jiujitsu, I tell people, you suffer your karma immediately, you know?

Janelle - Yeah.

Eli - You deal with that thing in the moment, because you can't let your head be somewhere other than this person who's on top of you, trying to choke you. If you do, you're gonna suffer from that immediately. So that really draws you away from any of those outside kind of noises and distractions and worries and concerns, and really puts you present, and there's such a healing aspect of that, that that practice has to offer that you can't really find through other means. You can find it deceptively, you can drug yourself. I mean, because that's what drugs do a lot of times. It numbs, it has like a an anesthetic property, but all that's doing is really just masking the pain. It's masking the discomfort, it's masking the distress that you're feeling and it compresses it. So, when it does resurface, it's almost gonna be worse, so, or is gonna be worse, so, dealing with things in a positive, healthful way like that is very important. So, for me, I mentioned about my sister. That was one of the most difficult things that I had to deal with in my life. The other aspect of it too, as far as it's just trauma that helped me deal with is growing up for a number of years I saw my mother in an abusive relationship, and that was a really hard thing for me to practice, because I had this kind of identity crisis. I was a kid, but I was a boy, I was male, I was supposed to be strong. I was supposed to have some kind of sense of power or strength about me, and so to be put in kind of one of the most helpless situations that I can imagine, as far as, you know, I think it's kind of being abused yourself is watching the person who is your number one caretaker being abused and being hurt and feeling helpless to do anything about that, because it's like, here's this person who's taking care of me all my life, and she, you know, how do I take care of her whenever she's in this helpless situation? And so that was a difficult thing for me to process, and I'm sure that that's had lasting repercussions over the years, over my entire life, so, but again, that's been another thing too that this sense of empowerment that's come with training a martial arts has given me that back. It's given me some kind of identity of I know how to protect myself now. I know how to protect my loved ones now. So, that was one of the most beneficial things as well along with that. As far as people who are suffering trauma, who suffer from depression, who suffer from to a degree mental illness, that which is an umbrella term that you carry a lot of different applications to it, so that's a difficult thing to just kind of blanket statement, but I think that there are benefits to training in martial arts, and training combat arts and combat sports that can really help. I've seen it help people with autism and Asperger's as well, it's a little bit of a tangential concept, but it is something that is really interesting that I worked with several people, kids and adults that have autism and Asperger's, and a lot of times that's a very sensory thing. There's a sensory and tactile component to that that's very difficult for them to function in quote unquote a normal capacity as far as other people do. So, the tactile nature of what we do in Jiujitsu is very, it has a lot of healthful properties to that. So, for someone who is very touch sensitive or touch phobic, it can be a very moderate thing to introduce them to that, and kinda help them get over a lot of the sensitivity. With people who are very weak, people who are very frail, people who are very, just everything hurts them, they're very soft people, it has kind of kneading process like a K-N-E-A-D, like kneading process, I feel like, because if you gonna toughen someone up, there has to be some harshness introduced to the environment. Too much is gonna break that person, physically or psychologically. You can't introduce something in too traumatic of a situation, that's gonna damage the person, but our bodies physically grow because of difficulty, because of the strain that we put on them when it's introduced in the right capacity. There's a difference between if I lift weights, I could lift weights in a way that could make my muscles and skeleton and tendons and everything stronger. I could also do it irresponsibly and damage my body. So, it's kind of along the same line. So, it's kind of part impartial that the training needs to be, regimen needs to be followed closely, and you need to work with a qualified instructor to really help guide you through that. To really understand your needs and that can really introduce things to you that you need to have happen, but there also has to be other components too. It's not a complete panacea that's gonna like deal all your aches and pains and woes. So, you have to supplement that with other aspects of your life that are conducive to your training.

Janelle - Yeah, that's true, and we're not saying that not to get professional help, or not to take medication if that's needed.

Eli - Yeah, absolutely not, for sure.

Janelle - But it definitely is interesting and studies have shown that it can help, and it can actually help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. I don't know, I mean it could be, it's probably a combination of things, but you take for example just with any exercise the endorphins that are released, or doing that heavy cardio which can get rid of high levels of cortisol and stress and stuff in the body, and so there's that, but then there's, and I'm not sure how much do you think like the breathing and meditation component of it affects your health as well, your mental health, but I'm sure as well.

Eli - Absolutely, yeah. I think so for sure. I think that it's such an easy to overlook aspect of that all. I mean, but, breath is literally life , and you can have, if you never focus on that, you're really, it's like running a vehicle with just like the worst quality fuel that you can put in it, I mean, so, if you don't pay attention to how the systems of the body work, and one of the most important being the respiratory system, I mean, they are interrelated, so, obviously it's an important component. So, breath work I think focused on individually aside from things is a really important study, it's a really important practice. When you see the benefits of it, everything from healing benefits, from like you were talking about like as far as how the brain releases different hormones and chemicals, and also suppresses different chemicals in your body, and a lot of that is just related simply to the breath work and the attention placed on that. So, I think it's crucial to pay attention to that during physical practice and also during still practice. It's funny, a friend of mine was telling me the other day, he's been reading some things on breath work, and he was mentioning that, he's like, if you ever read something, you've really been focused on something, you're just reading a book, sitting still, reading a book, and then like you're so focused on it that when you finish the passage that you're reading you're , that you take a breath, almost as if you were physically exerting yourself in that moment, and that alone tells you that what's happening inside you, as far as the mind body connection like that. So, it's interesting that you bring that up.

Janelle - Yeah, and you mentioned like Asperger's, I've also read that it can help with ADHD, or just focus problems in general, because like you alluded to earlier, if you're not entirely focused, you're gonna get your butt kicked .

Eli - Yeah, absolutely.

Janelle - So. You have to stay focused and that for sure would carry over into other areas of life as well, I'm sure.

Eli - Yeah, it teaches you what focus is. I think that it's very misleading things in terms whenever people think focus might have focus, then whatever I tell them to focus on, they're gonna look at it harder, they're gonna try to like to still their body, and point their body in that direction. That's not necessarily, that's just scratching the surface of what it means to be focused. Focused is not pulled in a whole bunch of different directions, and a lot of times it's what happens with ADD and ADHD, is that all the stimuli all around us, there's the filter is, it works differently. It's not damaged or broken, it just works differently, and so I've seen that with the physical component to be a very helpful thing to really kind of channel, it helps to put that filter in a more functional working order so that you can focus on the things you need to focus on, and I've seen that being very beneficial to people. A lot of times people come in with their kids especially, but I've worked with adults too dealing with ADD, ADHD. I think that, I don't think it's speaking out of term to say it's overdiagnosed these days, you know, when somebody comes in with a five-year-old and says, "He's got ADD and ADHD and hyperactive disorder." And all of it, I'm like, he's five. He's a normal five-year-old. He's gonna have a lot of energy. He's gonna be distracted by all the stuff going on, and not to say that there's not like legitimate medical conditions of that. In some cases they can benefit from medication, and everything else, but let's look from the holistic side first. Let's see what we can do naturally, because things are overdiagnosed, because people need labels. I need to know what's wrong with me. I need to know what is this thing that's wrong with me. Okay, I can put a label on it, and I can wear that like a name tag, so I can tell people about it, and I'll have a new identity. I have this new feature of myself, and it's just, I'm not trying to be cruel or harsh when I'm saying that, but I think that that is a condition of modern society, that's what millennials get condemned with now whenever people like, oh, these damn millennials, and what they're talking about, I think, a lot of the time is that aspect of, I need to have these identifying features and they make people to pay attention to me. I need people to sympathize with me, and it's just a form of searching for an empathetic connection, I think, for a lot of people, but it's no other weird way about it .

Janelle - Yeah, that's true. Another thing that I thought was really interesting, it's just kind of like the introspection that happens with martial arts, because if you're not always taking a look at ways that you need to improve, or if you're doing something wrong over and over again, you're gonna pay for that in a very painful way, and so it's like, that humility that you have to have in martial arts would carry over to all aspects of life as well.

Eli - Yeah, it definitely should when it works, right? I think when, it's kind of cliche to say, leave your ego at the door, or you know what they say. Don't come in and train with an ego. People are misusing the intention behind that a lot of the time, everybody has an ego. Everybody is self-centered, we have to be. It's a normal thing, it's a functional thing from like a, just from a survival standpoint we have to be egotistical to a degree, we have to, but it's understanding the nature of that. I think what people, I think what the intention behind that statement or those kind of statements actually is, is that if you get too wrapped up in, I have to be the best at this, I have to do this, I have to perform to this level, I have to compare myself to other people, and I have to be better than they are, then you are really cling that that's gonna be a really painful existence, and martial arts kind of brings that to the surface, because you can be a competitor, and you can be competitive, but there's always someone better. I'm a second degree black belt, and I'm fully aware that there are purple and brown belts out there who can tap me out on the mat, and if I let that keep me up at night, then I'm gonna have a lot of sleepless nights, and I think anybody being honest with themselves will be that, but it can also be a beautiful thing to realize that that really drives home the concept of it's not about the goal. You have to have goals along the way, but if it's like this final destination that you're trying to reach, you're never really gonna reach it, but it's okay to still have them, because it helps the trajectory of the journey that you're gonna take, and I think that that can be a really beautiful thing and a really motivated thing. So, I think it's important for people to have that aspect of their training.

Janelle - Yeah, definitely. Let's talk a minute about like how it helps with self-esteem. Have you as a coach seen some transformations that have been, made an impact on you with either kids or youth that you've coached or even adults?

Eli - Oh, for sure, for sure. It's great to see people who are very introverted come out of their shell, because now they have a new form of expression they didn't know it existed before. We've used over the years at different times, we've used a kind of a model for a place that awaken your potential, and I really like that one a lot. Not because it has a very positive sound and connotation to it, but it's not necessarily. It's revealing, it's about a revelation process. You find out some things about yourself when you train martial arts, and they're not all good. A lot of them are very negative things. You learn, oh, I didn't know that about myself whenever you're training, and you learn a lot of things about other people. Some of the, it's really hard to be deceptive when you're doing that kind of training, when you're live rolling with somebody and you're live wrestling with somebody, you develop kind of an ability, you're communicating. There's a non-verbal sense of communication, and you really start to learn a lot about that person through their movement, through their energy, and how they're conducting themselves. As far as how that applies to self-esteem, you really find people who sometimes are loud and boisterous and robust about their existence. A lot of times they're masking something. A lot of times there's, it's a defense mechanism. The same way that the person who's very introverted and shy, and seemingly scared of their own shadow is also, they're putting up an armor around them, and so I think martial arts really helps to, when functional, practical martial arts study should help to reveal that to that person, now, what they do with that information, is kind of up to them at that point, and that's when the therapeutic aspect of martial arts can really kick in, but again, the practice is, you have to have a very careful and particular practice. If you don't, you can be very damaging about what you do with that practice. If you wanna beat something out of yourself that you don't like about yourself, then good luck, it's gonna be like you're cutting off a limb. If you wanna kind of exercise some demons, then that's a different story, that can happen. I've seen that happen a lot and it's a beautiful thing.

Janelle - Yeah, is there any story of somebody that stands out to you?

Eli - Yeah, one that pops into mind, I could probably come up with 50 like these, but like one that pops into my mind, probably because I was just discussing it recently, was, I had a student that was not physical, not a physical guy. He, I don't know that he's ever done anything physical before he started training in Jiujitsu, and this gave him like a physical outlet. It was very good for him, and he gained a lot of confidence through it, he felt pretty good about himself. He'd been training maybe a couple of years, and was feeling pretty good, and handling himself well on the mat whenever he was sparring or rolling. He went off to university, and they had like a Jiujitsu club there, and he felt pretty good about himself. He was a blue belt at the time which is the second belt. Couple of years of training. I think though the mentality that when he stepped into that training environment was, well, I have an easy time with these guys, because these guys are just some guys that randomly get together and train and try to figure stuff out, I have more a formal setting training academic approach to this, and I'll go in there and kind of be okay, and he went in and these guys were very athletic, and they gave him a very hard time. So he came back a little crestfallen, like, I don't understand, these guys, they haven't trained as long as I have, they haven't done this as long, they don't know as much as I do. I say, you can't just counter nature. You can't just counter size and strength in it. Those things are all very important, and my statement to him was, man, imagine how badly you would have done before Jiujitsu. Before you trained. You would have had no chance. At least you were able to kind of fight and defend yourself, and deal with some of this energy, even though they got the better of you. They would have mulled you before. So, it's relative, it's a relative thing, and it kind of, I think, that a healthy dose of realism is one of the biggest things that you can get from it. Not a feeling of superiority. Not a feeling of inferiority, if you need to be ducked down a few notches, but it's that realistic thing that it offers you like that.

Janelle - Yeah, who do feel like has maybe had the most influence on you and your life? I mean, I'm sure there's like a billion people you can name, but what stands out to you?

Eli - Yeah, it, again, I mentioned Jason Hawkins before. That he, and again, knowing him for so long, and going through being a kid and kind of mentor and after him as a teacher, and at times a father figure, at times a brother. And I think he's absolutely brilliant in all of his studies. He's extremely well-read, extremely well-versed in a lot of different areas, martial arts just being one of them, but I mentored after him for so long that I don't know how, what my identity would be separate from knowing him, so that to me shows that he's probably overwhelmingly my biggest influence. Yeah, I could name a lot of different influences that I've had, obviously Royce Gracie, because I would not be doing the kind of martial arts that I'm doing now to this day, and with the perspective that I'm training, if it weren't for him and what his family has done, but yeah, that'd be the biggest one to me, would be Jason Hawkins, so.

Janelle - What are some tips that you tell people, or some mindset, mantras or different things that are helpful to you, and that you share with other people?

Eli - I think maybe a lot of it depends on what their goals are. I think that's the first thing, is you really have to kind of know yourself. You have to develop a practice that's self-revealing, and that to really formulate what you wanna do. People come in a lot of time with reasons that they wanna start training, and rarely is it the case that those reasons don't change after they begin training. They maybe come in, they want to fight, they want to compete, they want to just learn self-defense. They just wanna develop a hobby, whatever the case is, and I think that depending on what their perceived and actualized goals are, that will be revealed later, but I think learning that is important, and then working with a competent teacher. Not to be too fooled or duped into someone who's just impressive. It's just because someone is impressive, and their abilities does not necessarily mean that they're gonna be a good coach or teacher, or someone for you to study under. I've seen worldclass fighters and competitors, and exemplary people in martial arts in different ways that, they can't convey that information. They can't. So I mean if you're studying something, you need to have someone good that's gonna be able to teach you that. People tell me that I'm a good teacher sometimes, they tell me I'm a good coach sometimes, and I believe that I have some good elements to me that make me a good instructor, but at the same time I'm not the greatest fighter or competitor in the world. There's much better guys out there than I am that I can teach better then. So, that's gonna be more beneficial to the student. I'd say find a good, safe facility to train in, to follow your practice, and if you don't have that at least find good peers that have your best interest in mind, whenever you're training with that person. Someone who's gonna be conducive to your learning and to your development and your progress and your improvement in the most positive ways. It's not about just learning something that's gonna make you able to kick the average person's ass. It's about learning how to conduct yourself better as a person, and making yourself safer and healthier and happier ultimately, so, that's it.

Janelle - Yeah, it's awesome. What projects do you have coming up right now? Are you working on anything that you're especially passionate about?

Eli - Yeah, I'm must doing more of the same, but I've been doing a lot of seminars, even more seminars lately, and so that's--

Janelle - Are these online seminars? Or are they in person?

Eli - No. In person, yeah. I just, last weekend I was in Alexandria, Virginia, teaching a seminar up there. I actually did a podcast up there with those guys called the Five Philosophy Podcast, and before that I was in, where was I? Florida, before that I was in Oromocto, Canada, up there with JD and teaching a seminar at a Jiujitsu school up there, and then at a boxing club, and so, I really like to show people all the different facets of Jiujitsu, and like I taught a couple of seminars recently at boxing gyms and I went clinch fighting, and then how Jiujitsu can apply to that, and so it's a little outside the box for people to think about, but it's an interesting topic, and it really, I think, aside from them learning I learn something every time that I go to teach somewhere. So, that's been interesting to me. I have a seminar coming up this weekend in Farmington, Missouri, but as far as projects coming up, I'm still working with the Budo Brothers, and I'm hoping that early next year we finalize a project that's been in the work for several months now. We did some filming up there, and we're gonna do some filming here in Kentucky where I am, and I'm really excited about how that project is gonna turn out, because they do like really amazing work. Their filming, their editing is awesome, and hopefully that's gonna give a really good like way to convey the information as far as how they present it. That will be like a digital seminar they're gonna release.

Janelle - Beautiful.

Eli - And then I filmed with BJJ Fanatics that puts out lots of DVD instructionals, and I have an instructional set that was released with them a few months ago, and I'm actually heading up there in a few weeks to do another maybe one or two other volumes to that. So, I'm excited about those projects coming out. Other than that just teaching my classes here, my private lessons, and doing my YouTube videos and my Patreon videos and you know, staying busy.

Janelle - Yeah, yeah, sounds good. JD was telling me about he looked a little bit bald in the videos that you guys did, and he thinks you stole his hair or something. Do you have any--

Eli - Yeah, I didn't, I didn't.

Janelle - Any tips for keeping your hair? My husband's bald too.

Eli - I don't know, because like I've been very fortunate to keep my follicular structure intact over the years. Yeah, I don't know, but my advice to JD was, man, just shave it already, dude. Just do it, don't hang on past its prime, and just, if it's, it's just been trying to get him to shave his head forever, just like Mike "The Bullet Man", just do it. That's what I would do, I think, so.

Janelle - That's what my husband did, and he did it early on in our marriage, and I wasn't too happy about it then, but I can see why he did it.

Eli - Yeah, yeah.

Janelle - In fact it was funny for Halloween. His company dressed up and he had a costume, but he didn't end up putting it on, because this other guy shaved his head to look like my husband.

Eli - Oh no, that's hilarious.

Janelle - Yeah, it was pretty funny, yeah.

Eli - That is pretty cool.

Janelle - Anyways. Well any other...are you like a really healthy guy with different health practices? What would you eat on a typical day for breakfast for example?

Eli - Yeah. I'm not gonna lie and say that I'm like super careful and healthy in my diet. I try to eat clean, I mean, that's the biggest thing. I think my dietary practices and advice for people, I think that people get too tied up in fats, I think a lot of time with the dieting, and the fats are there for a reason. I think that there's a lot to learn from nutrition and dietetics from a lot of the fats that resurface over the years, but I think that there's the personalized component of nutrition and dietetics is the thing that's most overlooked. People read about, oh, this diet is really good for this, or this diet is really good for that. It's like, oh, you can take the healthiest foods in the world, and if your body does not like those foods, it's like, okay, where's something, I think avocado is probably one of the healthiest things you can put in your body. Well, not for someone who's allergic to avocado. So, you will find people who a vegan diet is the perfect thing for, but it's not perfect for everyone. I don't believe that. I think that we have a longstanding, I mean, we've been on this planet for a while. We came from a lot of different geographical areas. We come from a lot of different biological make ups as far as our ancestors and everything. So, learning about yourself, learning what gives you the most energy, what sustains the practice that you have in your life. If I were a triathlete, I would eat very differently. Being a Jiujitsu person I know that if I'm gonna have a very physical day of training and teaching, and then there needs to be a certain amount of hours between when I eat and when I step on the mat to start, because I can't, that digestion process, if I eat something that's too heavy for me to, that takes a lot of energy for me to digest, because digestion is one of the most energy draining things that we can potentially do throughout an entire day. So, if I put something that's gonna be difficult for my body to take up a lot of energy for me to digest, and cause me any kind of gastric distress or anything like that, it's gonna really have an impact on every facet of me teaching or training at that day. I'm not gonna get the most of it. My students aren't gonna get the most out of it. So, I try some weird things, I guess, that I do personally that works for me, is I don't each much early in the day. If I do eat, I usually don't eat cooked foods very much during the early part of the day or hot things. This changes depending on the time of the year. I eat heavier in the evening after I've done the physical part of my day. If I've done something that's a little more like strength training, then I try to up the protein more that day. I don't ascribe to like you need a gram of protein per pound of body weight or per kilogram of body weight or something like that throughout the day. I don't know. I know what I feel like when I ingest too much of certain things, and I try to avoid feeling like that. That's the biggest thing for me. I ingest way too much caffeine. I shouldn't do that. But I think everything in moderation is, that's really kind of the thing. I think overeating, excessive things, I think that avoiding things that are like overly, obviously things that are overly processed, have too many ingredients in them, that you don't know where the hell this stuff is coming from that they put into it. The big rage right now is, I was talking to a friend of mine over the weekend about this, the Impossible Burger. Like a lot of vegetarians and vegans love this impossible thing. Burger King is putting out, and it's basically just a meatless, I don't know if it's soy-based, vegetable-based, there's so much stuff in that though. Just because it's vegan doesn't make it healthy. Just because it's vegetarian doesn't make it healthy. Just because it's gluten-free doesn't make it healthy. Removing one bad thing from something with 50 bad things, and that doesn't necessarily make it healthy. So, it's overwhelming though, because especially as much as I travel, if I'm gonna eat somewhere, and everybody wants to go out to eat, and I have to travel and eat stuff on the road, then it's difficult for me to really pay very close attention to it, but I just try, you know, I've got a few staple things that I know are gonna be pretty safe, and then like I said, I watch the timing of what I eat, when and how much, and then try to drink a ton of water. I think that's the biggest thing that people miss out on, and people probably drink more water now than ever, but there's still, it's really hard to drink too much water.

Janelle - Yeah, yeah. What about, would we ever see you doing a yoga routine or anything, or do you change up your workout to something totally different to work on other aspects of your fitness?

Eli - Yeah, it does. It depends what my schedule is like. Lately with as much travel as I've had to do, it's been easier for me to do more kind of traditional strength training and weightlifting, and so I've been doing that a lot lately. Then anything like yoga, but I've been around yoga all my, most all of my training life. We started back in the early 2000s doing Ashtanga yoga, and I was really fascinated with that for a number of years, and I still kind of go back and revisit that from time to time, but I don't make it as regimented for practice as to say, I do yoga, so. I think yoga in my opinion is one of the best solo practices that you can do to benefit your Jiujitsu training. I often times in Jiujitsu we call Jiujitsu involuntary yoga. I think that whatever you do voluntary, yoga, it helps to impact your Jiujitsu training, so. There are certain things that I think that are more conducive to the Jiujitsu lifestyle, and developing a body that's more equipped to handle that kind of training versus if you're gonna do boxing or kickboxing, let's say, or if you don't wanna do something that's gonna make you too bulky and tight in your muscles, you wanna do something that's gonna kind of allow you to keep a malleability and a flexibility too, that's gonna help you to function a little better in that environment, and I think that's ultimately a healthier way to go about it. A lot of times people want to, especially guys, we wanna bulk up, and we have nice beach muscles, so, I think that some guys take that to the extreme, and especially because we're inside of a gym here, we're inside of like a fitness center, and so I see a lot of the guys are just jacked. Guys walking around downstairs. I think then it's overweight is overweight. Whether you're 300 pounds of muscle or 300 pounds of fat, you're gonna have health issues either way. If you're six feet tall or less, so. It's, yeah, that was a bit of a tangent there, but it's as far as healthy dieting and nutrition and everything like that goes, and working out, I think that it should focus on what you're doing. Again, I would have a very different workout routine, if I were a marathon runner than I do as a Jiujitsu practitioner.

Janelle - Cool, well thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us today. We're excited. Is there anything that you'd like us to throw in the show notes or link up to you? Or how can people reach you? Obviously we'll link up to your YouTube channel.

Eli - Thank you, I appreciate that. Yeah, basically type in Knight Jiujitsu like that, and any of the socials will probably pop up, so on Facebook, on Instagram, and on YouTube obviously. My Patreon channel is patreon.com/knightjiujitsu, so all those different ways and I've put different content on different channels and different media outlets and stuff, and so that's the way that people can typically follow me versus just going on a website somewhere, because I try to post about upcoming seminars, and where I'm gonna be and what I'm gonna be focused on, and then if I have any projects coming up, I put those on those different channels like on Instagram and Patreon especially, and then on my YouTube channel.

Janelle - Yeah, okay, fantastic. Well, we're excited to get this out, and we really appreciate your time, so. Have a good day.

Eli - Oh, I appreciate, yeah, you too, thank you very much for having me on.

Janelle - To learn more from Eli Knight be sure to visit us at plumdragonherbs.com. We will post show notes, a transcript and ways to connect with Eli. And if you liked what you heard today, we hope you'll send us some love back by subscribing to our show on YouTube, iTunes, or wherever you like to listen, and leave us a comment. We've got a lot of great shows lined up, and we hope you'll stick with us. Until next time.

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