I know… I know.
It’s been three months since my last post… three months, I know!
Today marks two years to the day since I started my journey learning BJJ. And I figured, what a better way to get the ball rolling again than with a post celebrating that two years.
A couple weeks before I took my first class, I was contacted by the assistant coach and senior student, a purple belt named Karina. The rest, as they say, is history.
Aww look at that innocent little white belt! Wearing the club’s “loaner” Gi so I could dive in and see what this world was all about. I had absolutely no clue what was in store for me! Let’s see… I don’t want this turning into an advice article, but since we’re reflecting on the last two years, might as well pass on something, right? Like I tell my teammates who ask me something, HUGE ASTERISK – I am not a Professor, and I don’t have the winningest tournament record.
That said…if you are a newly minted white belt, or looking to try this out, here are a few “universal” things that should help you along. These aren’t original by any stretch of the imagination. You’ll hear these or variations of them from many voices within the community of BJJ practitioners.
- This is like learning a language by being air-dropped into the country. This is language learning by immersion in the culture.
- Or – another analogy: This is like trying to take a sip of water from an uncapped fire hydrant.
- Be patient with yourself. There’s just a lot of information. Don’t worry about all the “what if” this and thats. Just practice the technique. Trust me, there isn’t a question your Professor or Coach hasn’t heard, it’ll get answered. There is only one or two in there with a Black Belt on…and you aren’t it.
- Your job is to learn to survive. Don’t worry about tapping people out. That will come. Until then, you’re going to get tapped… a lot.
- Tap early, tap often.
- Be a good teammate. Work with your training partner. Being a shitty training partner robs you and your teammate of quality training and learning time. Working a new technique isn’t the time to resist and rob your training partner who is just trying to get the mechanics down. “Train like you fight…” Okay, how about get the mechanics down where you can’t get it wrong and then increase resistance? I’ll stop the rant there, that might be it’s own blog post someday. Just be a good teammate.
- Get a notebook, take notes. Write down what you worked on. Write down those questions! Circle back with your Professor or Coach about them.
Like Dory says in ‘Finding Nemo’, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”.
Since starting, I’ve competed in three tournaments, medalling in one. Our gym has been able to host three seminars with the patriarch of our association RMNU, Professor Robson Moura. It’s been a pleasure having him come out to Idaho and, yes he’s “just a guy” but I still geek out every time he likes one of my posts on Instagram, I can’t help it! Not many have accomplished what he has in his BJJ career, so, respect and geekiness is due.
I’ve also enjoyed learning (and continue to learn as classes and the opportunity presents itself at my gym) NoGi and American Wrestling.
I had the honor, along with my teammates to witness Professor Robson promote our very own Coach Shane Mount (now Professor) to the rank of Black Belt.
The week prior, I was promoted to blue belt. And every day on the mat is a new experience. Even when we revisit a technique that Professor Shane taught six months ago, there is always something to catch, something to learn; a small tweak here, a improvement on the system there.
I’ve seen people come and people go.
Some put their time in and were part of the team, varying reasons – life, jobs, etc., not everything is drama. Such is life, but it sucked to see them go. Some people were sifted like chaff from wheat – the toxic, the bullies, the ones who pulled the team down instead of working to build themselves and everyone else up (just my observation here, I do not speak for Professor Shane). And some stayed. The net making up a better sum total in regards to our team.
My daughter joined just over a year ago, 16 (soon to turn 17) and she rolls well with the adults, even some of the men – which is a beautiful testament to BJJ and its equalizing potential.
It’s been a fun two years, and there are plenty more ahead.
I’ve come to really love and enjoy the technical side of Jiu Jitsu,
I enjoy the discipline.
I love how truth is found on the mats, your work (or lack thereof) has nowhere to hide.
I enjoy getting as many reps of a technique as possible in each class.
I enjoy experimenting in rolls.
I enjoy my training partners and those handful of blues that have been around as long or longer than me.
I enjoy training with the white belts and giving back to them, just as a few higher belts did for me.
I enjoy focusing on movement, being smooth and “flowy” during my rolls, this has helped me a great deal. I’m not saying I’m good at it, but I enjoy it.
There is so much that I enjoy and am thankful for when it comes to learning this art and being a part of the team that I’ve found myself in.