[Joe Staples is a brown belt under Jason Hunt and Kenny Florian at Meraki BJJ in Los Angeles. He is an Emmy Award winning writer and creative director who is currently a Partner at Mother Industries where he overseas the creative output for clients such as Postmates, and Sonic (the drive in, not the hedgehog). Before LA he lived in Portland Oregon where he helped run Wieden+Kennedy working on Nike, Coke, Chrysler and Old Spice.
Originally from South London, Joe is currently holed up in his house (that luckily has a padded garage) in LA where he lives with his wife Jessica, his son Sonny and dog Archie.
This week, we asked Joe to share some things on his desk keeping him inspired off the mat during the pandemic.]
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Like many people I'm working from home. I have a padded garage and kettlebells in the yard but I spend most of the working part of the day in my office. I figured I'd send notes on things that surround me.
Firstly a magazine.
This is from 1939, a time before saying "American Jiu-Jitsu" was controversial. I love the logo on the front and some of the instructionals inside are amazing too. It's all demonstrated in the clothing of the time. The Police are in uniforms and the bag guys are in leather jackets. Some of the techniques are pretty silly, especially the handgun disarms and they call cross collar chokes "the Japanese choke hold". A friend of mine bought me this at the same time I was reading the Reila Gracie biography of Carlos Gracie.
Rickson has been on my desk at work since I got him about 8 years ago. He hangs out with a figure of Eddy Merckx. I think it's funny that even as a small plastic figure, he still seems imposing.
Like everyone reading this I've watched the Choke documentary many times. I've heard the Yoji Anjo story, I've watched his Pride fights but mainly I just can't understand why no one has reissued the Jimmy-Z style shorts he wears in the beach fight with Hugo Duarte, those would be fire. Hint hint.
I'm into sneaker's profiles, the side view, the shape. I think this means I'm old. On and off for the past 20 years I've worked with Nike on marketing and advertising and so I think about sneakers and their details a lot. This definitely means I'm old.
These Converse that Hiroshi Fujiwara did are some of my favorites. The Converse All star is a great shoe or a horrible shoe depending on the feet that are in them and how they are laced. At worst, it looks like a clown shoe.
Hiroshi made some small changes. A padded tongue, some welt details, all small stuff to someone who doesn't really care. To someone who does, the shoe is now basically perfect.
To me this is the Rafa Mendes backstep pass of sneakers. That pass can look so donkey, but Rafa makes it beautiful.
This is an interesting book about how Tribal societies hold the key to human happiness.
Junger argues that we need three simple things to be happy. We need adversity, a common goal and the ability to contribute to that goal. This is what tribal societies had it's what Military societies have now. He argues that it's why even after such harrowing experiences Soldiers miss these times for the rest of their lives. Modern life is really bad at delivering these things. Apart from at Jiu-Jitsu.
I love walking into Meraki and seeing my friend, I love that it will be hard and that we all want to get better and that to get better we have to give. We have be good Uke. We learn as a group. We get to live a tribal life.
I travel a lot for work. If Im going to NYC I'll visit Marcelo's and wherever I go I try to take a TRX. It's small, it was started by a Navy Seal/BJJ guy and it helps me train in hotels that don't have gyms. The older I get (I'm 46) the more this stuff if important. I wish I started yoga in my 20's, instead of this week.
A Note Pad.
Learning how you learn is important. Some academies encourage note taking, some encourage peer to peer teaching, some drill more, some roll more. For me I need reps, not necessarily "drillers are killers" reps, but I need to be reminded. I go to class and then right after I try to write down the key points, I don't really reread them, just the act of writing it down seems to help. Then when I get home I might try it on my wife/son and then before I go to bed I watch a youtube the video of the technique. I learn slowly and I have to work around that.
This is one of the pads I take my notes in. It's also a nice low key flex for important client meetings. Someone says something stupid, you take this out and nod to yourself quietly while writing something/anything.