Travis Tooke Family Pic

I’m Turning 40!

What I have learned over the years

Tomorrow I turn 40 years young. In many ways it’s hard to believe. I remember as a young man thinking how “old” 40 was. I also recall this idea that whenever I eventually reach that age, I would be wise and mature with answers to all of life’s problems. Well, I may have overestimated my abilities. I have so many more questions about life than I do answers. I’m hardly the Yoda like entity of wisdom that I once imagined and my corny/inappropriate sense of humor would suggest that I’m far from mature. I still have a long way to go and much to learn, but I have gathered a few ideas along the way that I’d like to share with you.

Exercise Every Day

I currently exercise much more now than I ever did in my younger years. This daily ritual has been paramount in keeping me young both in body and mind. While some of my training has been tapered to work around a few nagging injuries, I am more physically active than ever before. I run, lift weights, do calisthenics, yoga, and, of course, Jiu-jitsu 1-2 times daily. This weekly routine has kept me going strong and is the most important part of my mental health. You don’t have to train like an olympic athlete and run yourself into the ground. But an ‘intensity appropriate’ exercise session every day will improve the quality of your life in a way that is second to none. And if you are not currently a Jiu-jitsu student…WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Read More Books

Here’s something you may not know about me. I was a slightly below average student throughout my school years (which didn’t include any college). I hated to study and I absolutely dreaded reading assignments. These days, I read about 3-4 books every month. Reading (or audiobook listening) helps me see the world through a fresh new lens every week. It is nearly impossible for life to become dull while in the process of learning some new and exciting. While writing this, I was coming up with dozens of ideas about what I’ve learned over the years and I realized that the majority of my education and knowledge has come from books.Ā  I’m enjoying the process as much as I did when I really upped my reading game over 20 years ago. Even if I lived another 1,000 years I still would never get to read everything about all the fascinating aspects of life. That fact alone is humbling and fascinating (actually, I bet there’s a book written about that very topic). I equate the ongoing education I receive from books to that of martial arts training. Both are incredible journeys, filled with adventure and unending knowledge.

Less Social Media, More Time With Friends, Family and Nature

I love posting on Instagram and Facebook about the exciting news happening here at the school. Recently, I had the honor to promote 6 new Black Belts! I was sharing stories and posts while tagging everyone and keeping the celebration going strong. Social media can be a great way to connect and share memories and events with the people you love. But there is a catch. And when I say “catch”, I mean a destructive and addictive force that causes anxiety, depression, FOMO (fear of missing out), envy, anger and negative thoughts that pile on to one another in a vicious that won’t end because you can’t stop from scrolling down to read the comments or see just how perfect everyone’s life is but your own!!! Am I exaggerating? For some, yes. For others, I barely scratched the surface on how much of a negative impact social media/their smart phones have had on their mental well being. Now, I don’t want to bash smart phones all together. Suffice to say, there was probably a pretty good reason why Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his own kids have IPads. But here’s a bit of advice…Never start your day or end your day on your phone. Before you go to bed, put your phone just out of reach. You can keep it close enough to hear your alarm, but far enough that you cannot reach it without getting out of bed. When you wake in the morning, drink some water, stretch your body, do some deep breathing but leave your phone alone. After you have completed this ritual…wait 5 more minutes, it won’t kill you. When you inevitably return to the dark world of smart phone addiction, see if you can refrain from checking it every 45 seconds. This can be difficult, especially when it’s buzzing with alerts and notifications! Those are so exciting, aren’t they!?! Here’s an idea, the next time you go to the bathroom (number 2 lol), leave your phone! I know, I know…you never do that, right? šŸ˜³

Sorry, that was a long “smart phone” rant. I think that’s what you would call “Projecting” as I feel that I’m giving this advice to myself. Once you have curbed your smart phone addiction, call an old (or new) friend, family member or loved one and go hiking in the woods together and keep your phones on airplane mode. If a mountain hiking adventure isn’t doable, your local park will suffice. Spending time in nature is good for the soul and spending actual time with actual people is what humans are wired to do. We need to be directly connected with the ones we love and we need to connect with the natural world.

I am always learning and my views on politics, religion, jiu-jitsu and the Corona virus might change from one week to the next. But when I push my body to sweat, learn something new and exciting, and connect with my fellow humans and the natural world we all share, I am right where I need to be. I believe these ideas are true and I hope you share this view. Thanks for reading. Happy Birthday to Me!





Putting Things Into Proper Perspective

2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for the whole planet. Covid-19 threw a wrench into everyone’s plans, goals and dreams for the year. And while a few people may have struck it rich in the stock market, the rest of the planet was busy dealing with job losses, shutdowns, sickness and even the death of loved ones. Add to that a presidential election that has stirred up more controversy and division than any in recent history. The combination was enough to drive stable, mild mannered people over the edge. Here in Texas, small businesses like mine have been lucky in the sense that our mandatory shutdown was short lived and we were able to reopen in a relatively short amount of time. But that does not mean we were without struggle. I know of several martial arts schools that had to shut down as a direct result of Covid. During struggles like this, perspective is key. Just a few weeks ago, I found myself mildly depressed. November and December were slow months in terms of the schools growth. And, with my recent bicep surgery and not being able to train as much or compete in the upcoming Jiu-jitsu Master Worlds, I was starting to feel a little bit like Scrooge.

The Unexpected

Although I was feeling a little grumpier than usual, I was excited to get our team ready to compete in the IBJJF Jiu-jitsu Master World Championships in Kissimmee, FL. In preparation for the final week of training, the competitors were focused and working their drills, positional sparring and final game plans. Jack Moores (Team Tooke purple belt, coach and competitor) was among the students registered to compete. He had a great practice Monday morning, and left the school in great shape ready to compete just a few days later. Later that day I received the news that Jack had suffered a stroke, was in the ICU and no one knowing whether we would ever see him again. Coach Jack is fairly young, in amazing shape and has no personal or family history of stroke. To put it mildly, we were shocked. I’m thankful that as of today, Jack is doing great and has made a fantastic recovery. He plans to slowly return to training and exercise within just a couple of months. When I heard about Jack I almost immediately felt 2 different emotions and lost another one. The first was sadness. I felt sad for my dear friend. I felt sad for his family. Jack is one of the hardest working and most reliable people I have had the honor to call a friend and the last person who deserves this misfortune. The second emotion was gratitude. I started to really think about how lucky our team and I have been to have Jack in our lives. I really believe that he gets more satisfaction from helping friends than anyone I know. The last emotion I felt was guilt. I had allowed a lackluster couple of weeks and a hurt bicep to really impact my mood. I can only imagine what a real problem (like a stroke) might have done.

It Takes Effort

Gratitude for our health, our family, our career…our lives all require practice. These thingsĀ shouldĀ make us feel happy, grateful and ecstatic from the time we open our eyes until the minute we close them. But we simply aren’t wired that way. Gratitude requires effort and we must practice it daily. Today I am grateful that Jack is doing much better. I am grateful that I have friends and students I absolutely love. I’m grateful for my strong health and for for my wonderful family. And I’m grateful for this very moment where I am free to share my thoughts, ideas and feelings without prejudice.

I hope you will take some time today and each morning to focus on how wonderful your life is (or can be), when you keep it in its proper perspective


Travis Tooke

Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts

Torres Jiu-jitsu Academy

Torres Jiu-jitsu Grand Opening

Torres Jiu-jitsu Grand Opening in Spring, TX

On Saturday, November 7th, Team Tooke Jiu-jitsu Black Belt Michael Torres celebrated his Grand Opening. Professor Mike started his school similar to Professor Travis Tooke, in a very small location! As he grew, he was forced to find a location that could support his larger student base. The growing pains of the martial arts business world are as difficult as any other business and more so than most. The road to black belt is long and arduous. Add on top of that a nationwide pandemic, being a full time instructor, business owner and new father, Professor Michael Torres has his hands full. But Mike has within him the martial arts spirit ad the dedication and discipline to succeed. That is why Torres Jiu-jitsu in Spring, TX will quickly become one of the top Jiu-jitsu academies in the greater Houston area.

Special Offer for New Spring Jiu-jitsu Students

Anyone in the Spring, TX area looking to learn realistic self defense and Jiu-jitsu should be sure to visit Torres Jiu-jitsu for a limited time introductory offer. Classes are available for kids, adults and families. Contact them today to find out why Torres Jiu-jitsu is the number one Jiu-jitsu academy in Spring, TX


Travis Tooke

Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts

10111 Grant Rd Suite R

Houston, TX 77070

Jiu-jitsu Training

Start with the Physical

Get the Body Moving

When your motivation dips and proves difficult to find again, it can be difficult to set and work toward meaningful goals. And, while self talk can be very useful, sometime the negative voices in our heads will drown out any attempt at positive self talk. That is why I firmly believe that starting with physical activity is key to getting your mind into a better state. Running, swimming, weight training, cycling and especially Jiu-jitsu are all greta ways to snap the brain out of a funk. Without going too deep into the science behind why physical activity is so effective, let’s just say that getting the body moving often provides the clarity and focus that the mind needs to press forward and win the day.

Why Jiu-jitsu

All forms of physical exercise can provide mental benefits. As a Jiu-jitsu practitioner for the past 23 years, I’m obviously biased toward what I love. But hear me out…Jiu-jitsu offers a complete body workout. Arms, Legs, Core, Back, Aerobic, Anaerobic, strength, flexibility,…etc. But just as valuable as the physical workout is the mental challenge. Jiu-jitsu requires its students to think critically, strategize and solve the puzzle of your trained opponent. It’s quite literally like chess…with the addition of someone trying to choke you LOL! The truth is that when you are engaged in an activity like Jiu-jitsu where your heart rate is up, your breathing is focused and your mind is fully engaged, your motivation will almost certainly increase. This will carry over into your other goals and you will start to feel the compounding effect of physical training and mental stimulation. In short, your motivation will reignite and you’ll feel more like the person you want to be. Now get out there and start moving!