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.  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? 😳

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!




Warrior Crucible

Warrior Crucible at Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts

Warrior Crucible

Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts Academy is preparing for the next installment of the Warrior Crucible. The Warrior Crucible is a 12+ hour martial arts military style event designed to test the stamina, character and inner spirit of all participants. Novice athletes and beginner level martial arts students should consider doing the course only when they have received a higher level of physical stamina. The program is quite grueling at times and students need to be well prepared for about 2 week’s worth of workouts packed into a single day! The event consists of:


  • Teamwork Skills
  • Leadership Development
  • Martial Arts Conditioning Drills
  • Endurance Training
  • Focused Breathing Techniques
  • Mobility Practice
  • Goal Setting Class
  • Emotional Resilience
  • Mental Toughness Training

The event is part of the Team Tooke Martial Arts Leadership Program which combines martial arts technical skills with character enrichment, goal setting and teamwork. The event will be lead by Team Tooke owner and 4th degree Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt Travis Tooke. It was inspired by his participation in a Navy Seal prep course called Sealfit. Professor Travis was so inspired by his experience that he decided to create a version of the same type of training for his students at Team Tooke. This latest edition will be the 5th installment of the Warrior Crucible. Students who wish to participate should arrive well rested, hydrated, injury free and physically prepared. In addition to the exhausting fitness and martial arts challenges, there are also visualization exercises, deep breathing practices and fun, yet exhausting games. Those who complete the course can expect to walk away with a sense of gratitude and personal achievement that few will ever experience.

Hotel meme

2020, a year to forget, or a year to appreciate

Happy New Year

Well, Happy January 4th to be precise. 2020 was referred to by many as “a year to forget” and for good reason. We witnessed a deadly global pandemic, a hostile election, rioting, unemployment, and Jake Paul. And while the media filled our ears with one apocalyptic doomsday scenario after another, we survived. Personally, I found myself in a frantic state of mind when I realized that I had to close the school  down back in March. I didn’t know how long the shutdown would last and I played out the worst case scenario in my head for that first week. But the team (You, me the coaches and staff) pulled through it. We hosted zoom classes, encouraged one another and when we were finally allowed to reopen, nearly everyone returned smiling from ear to ear. I was excited to get back to training and competing. So when the IBJJF announced the Austin Open, I registered right away. And, as you might recall, tore my bicep during my semi final match attempting a single leg takedown. If the mandatory shutdown wasn’t enough to get me down, bicep surgery and several weeks of doctor ordered “no physical activity” just might. While it was a major bummer and I had my fair share of super grumpy days (okay, weeks), I am so grateful that it didn’t get the better of me. I strapped on my robot arm and made due with what I had. Actually, my Terminator-like arm brace made me feel as though I had super-human strength…especially when I sparred with 10 year olds LOL!

The truth is, 2020 wasn’t all bad. So to break the routine of the terrible, horrible agenda driven news from the everyday media, I have decided to share some of the good things that happened in the past 365 days.


1) Renewable (Green) Energy had a record year

2) More people than ever around the world had access to electricity

4) Africa was declared free of wild polio

5) Elephants and Gorillas had a major baby boom in Africa

6) Blue Whale numbers are increasing

7) We got Tiger King on Netflix!


And if that didn’t add to your New Years Optimism, here are a few more reasons why right now, 2020 AD is the best time in history to be alive:


1)Life expectancy is at an all time high

2)Child mortality is at an all time low

3)GDP continues to grow in developing countries

4)More people worldwide live in democracies

5)Wars and conflicts are lower than ever before

6)Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts Academy is alive and well!


Your unique experience over the past year may or may not have been the best. But remember to keep in mind that we live in the most opportunistic country during the the most opportunistic time in history. And while life, people, government and new ideas are not perfect, today is as good as it has ever been and will likely be even better by this time next year. Carry with you a positive attitude and belief in the good of who you are as well as the people around you. Protect yourself from those who might do you harm but also from those sources who will try to convince you that the world is a dark, evil place that gets worse with each passing year. The facts don’t support this narrative. Also, check out the book Abundance by Peter H. Diamandis for more information about a hopeful future.

I hope 2021 is your best year yet and you realize all of your goals. Happy New Year!


Professor Travis Tooke










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 things should 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

Gratitude for our Veterans

Gratitude for Veterans

With the current tension surrounding the election coupled with this pandemic, there is a great deal of complaining going on. And while I fully support everyone’s right to complain, argue and stand for what they believe in, we sometimes forget why we have this right to begin with.  For Veterans Day, I hope you will all take a brief  moment to remember why we have the freedom of speech that we so take for granted. It’s because the bravest among us have fought and died to defend our amazing country. And in spite of all of its flaws and many of its ‘not so great’ politicians, we live in a place where we get to train jiu-jitsu and wine about just about anything we want LOL. So in between arguments over who really won the election and the long list of things that suck, pause for a moment and let’s all feel the well deserved gratitude for those who have given their lives and to those who continue to serve this nation. And if you can do it for a single day, maybe you can do it a little more every day 🙂

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

Warrior Crucible

Outperform Your Old Self

Competing with Yourself

In the competitive world we live in it seems that winning against our competitors is a high priority. In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, 2 athletes start a match but only one will be declared the victor. In team sports, 2 teams play but only one wins. It seems simple enough and the stakes are often so high that there seems to be little room for extra competition. But competing against others only shows you that you’re doing better than someone else. It doesn’t necessarily tell you that you  have improved a great deal. Working to outperform your old self is actually the best indicator of progress. As a Jiu-jitsu instructor I still enjoy the challenge of competition. But I only compete a handful of times per year. The majority of my time is spent teaching and training with my students. Since I have years, and sometimes decades, more experience than many of my students, I don’t always try to just win match after match as fast as possible. That wouldn’t teach me anything or tell me that I’m progressing. It also wouldn’t be too fun for the beginner level student. Rather, I challenger myself to work out of bad positions, limit myself to only one or 2 submissions that I’m allowed to use. This type of training forces me to grow and it’s a better learning experience for the student as well.

Why Compete with Yourself

Here a re a few ways that you can work to outperform your old self on a weekly basis. To start, remember that comparing yourself to those who are operating beneath your level might boost your ego but it won’t grow your skill. And comparing yourself to those who are operating above your level will slash your confidence and demotivate you. Competing against your old self will drive progress and growth. Competition among others is natural and can be helpful but only when you find a competitor that drives you to be better. When the sole focus is to beat a specific person or drag them down, you can only stop them from winning. But you will still lose in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE competition! I believe that the intense training, visualizing, nervous energy and focus that makes up  competition camp is a very good thing. And, competition goals and events will certainly fuel growth. I’m just saying that by itself, it’s not enough. You have to keep beating your old self.  You must always be working to improve, even with age. Your physicality may slow over time, but your comprehension and control can increase long beyond your physical prime. Not only will this way of training help you improve at the fastest level, but you will enjoy the process so much more.

Your Daily Routine Matters

Why Routine Matters

The word “Routine” is neither exciting nor attractive. In fact, it is synonymous with boring, normal, predictable or expected. And yet, a consistent daily routine is perhaps the single biggest predictor of success among athletes, business people, families, and anyone aspiring to reach greatness in any field or endeavor. The best Jiu-jitsu athletes competing and winning at the highest level typically train twice a day. They also have a daily strength and conditioning program and follow a balanced diet. When preparing for a competition, they adjust their routine and training to prepare for the specific event. Find any top performing athlete, musician, author…etc. and you will find many similarities. Basketball players practice their shots daily, guitarist play their scales daily, and authors make a habit of writing daily. Over time, their skills become second nature and everyone starts calling them “gifted”. Sure, natural talent does exist, but it’s no substitute for thousands of hours of honing your craft. Excluding lottery winners, winning in sport, family, business, and life requires the accumulation of skills that only come with daily, consistent practice. And without a daily routine, your practice will be random and your skillset will be very slow to develop.

How to Develop a Routine

Developing a daily routine does not need to be complicated. In fact, it’s as easy as choosing 1 thing to do at the same time every day. For example, let’s say you are new to exercise and would like to get into shape. Creating a routine of walking or jogging for 1.5 miles every morning at 7am is a great start. Starting at the same time will help keep you on track. As you improve, adjust your output. Perhaps challenge yourself to a 1.5 mile jog instead of a walk.  Then 2 miles, then add in some calisthenics and so on. If you miss the 7am time slot, you can always finish at a different time. But try to always come back to the same 7am time slot. This will allow you to add new goals to your day without interfering with your fitness goals.

Breaking Routine

Now, it’s not to say that you can never break your routine. In fact, a break from routine is not only allowed but important. Burnout can be the result of never giving yourself a change of scenery. An occasional vacation, a day off, a rock concert, or pursuing a lifelong dream will require a break or a modification from your daily routine. These breaks can actually be refreshing and help the mind refocus. Just be careful that your “break” doesn’t become a new routine of sit coms and Oreos…MMM…Oreos!

Check out the video below where I outline my average daily routine


Click here to watch the video


Travis Tooke

CEO/Master Instructor at Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts

Published Author of Jiu-jitsu and Life


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!

Fishing in South Carolina



I just returned from a wonderful one week stay in South Carolina where I reconnected with family I haven’t seen in quite some time. The trip was one that my brother and I had been planning every year for the past 5 years. Unfortunately, something would always come up and we could never make it happen. The trip didn’t disappoint. In spite of the super high tides we still caught some big fish and had a great time reconnecting with family. My uncle, a fish guide and writer, led the way.


Near the end of the trip, Collins Doughtie (our uncle) wrote a great article for the local paper The Island Packet (Check it out here). In the article he expressed how all the years of living in Bluffton, SC had somewhat caused him to take the place he calls home for granted. With the approaching elections and the stress of this crazy year, he had become stressed out. He went on to explain how the excitement that J.P. and I expressed at the beauty of this place reminded him how lucky he was to get to do what he loves with the people he loves. “Travis and JP both left saying they would never, ever forget this visit. That alone washed away all my stress and opened wide those half closed eyes”.

 Practice, Practice, Practice

This article reminded me of myself. I am so blessed to get to do what I love every day. But even I am not immune to hedonic adaptation. Behind the smile that I usually sport during class exists a normal human being who gets stressed out, overwhelmed and even jaded at times. My recent injury (torn bicep), has reminded just how much I really love and depend on martial arts for my overall well being. Unable to train, I can think about little else I’d rather be doing. I LOVE JIU-JITSU!!! And I don’t think that more than 10 consecutive days have passed in the past 23 years where I wasn’t in a gi, training and sweating alongside my teammates. As disappointed as this is, I am reminded of the fact that I was lucky enough to find something I’m truly passionate about. And I should always be grateful. Much like jiu-jitsu, gratitude is a skill. Without practice, you simply won’t get any better.


So, while I’m unable to train much for at least a few more weeks, I am super thankful to have the opportunity to teach and share martial arts with my amazing students. I hope you share my sentiment and will take a few minutes every day to remember what you are grateful for. And if your body happens to be working fine and you’re not 3 weeks fresh out of bicep repair surgery, be sure to get to class tonight and seize the day!


Travis Tooke

4th Degree Black Belt

CEO Team Tooke Mixed Martial Arts

Author of Jiu-jitsu and Life