I’ve always been an anxious kinda guy, I felt pushed around for most of my life. Never really been into sports, I was a good swimmer at school, fairly decent runner in my twenties, but I could never get along in the typical sort of sports we play and that have a sort of a cult around them. I’m talking about football/soccer, rugby, even cricket. I never really felt the competitive edge, and though I won a lot at swimming, in a one on one scenario I would always be the first to back down. Fear, was not my friend.
About 4 years ago I tried out Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I wasn’t sure it was for me at first, drowning is such a good analogy for the complete beginner. But my team partner and now good friend Leigh suggested I stick with it for three months minimum. Keep going. No matter the doubts and setbacks. “3 months”, I thought to myself, “I can do that”.
I bought my own Gi, I turned up about three times per week. I never missed open mat if I could help it. I got to know my team mates better and I began to feel something approaching camaraderie, the Jiu Jitsu family. The memes began to make sense, too! Slowly I learned to understand what the expressions meant. The language was unveiled to me. I thought that I knew what OSS meant, after a while I got to know what creonte was, and wasn’t. But I was getting tossed around, beaten up. Every. Damn. Night. “This is the gentle art isn’t it?” What I knew was that I didn’t want to hurt anyone, so the application of aggressive force went against the impression of BJJ I had conjured in my mind’s eye. Engaging one-on-one with force was alien to me.
Then one night, my coach, Arlans Siqueira sat next to me on the mat, after I had again been beaten around the place. He looked into my eyes and said “Chris, why are you here? You have to start fighting. Or they are going to keep fucking you up”. I had misunderstood the principles, I had taken the term Art suave at face value. I’m now convinced it’s not a helpful label for BJJ. That night I think I realised that in order to apply the right force at the right time I had to first learn to apply force. I began to resist. Then I began to defend. Soon I began to attack, although hamfistedly and poorly executed. I still consider myself a slow learner, and a late bloomer- I remember pulling off my first successful armbar at open mat roughly 8 months in!
I took what Arlans said to me that night as a metaphor for my life experience up until that day also. I grew in confidence too, felt more comfortable taking risks in life, and perhaps that’s a post for another day. But it was then that I began to keep training notes. First on my phone. Little messages I sent to myself. I was taking training more seriously and these complex chains of movements needed to be better recalled under stress. I would note down names of techniques and how to execute them, usually the day after learning. Then in a journal, on the night of training. I believe in handwriting my BJJ notes, because there is a unique relationship between the hand and the mind which helps us to internalise techniques. My teammates noticed and asked about my practice. This is what drove the creation of the BJJ Journal.
I’m not saying I’m the expert about improving your BJJ technique. I’m just trying to survive. I’m eager for progression in this sport that I love so I use my brain to get it. I invested in myself. But I diversified that investment.
You can try the BJJ journal now.
The Hardback Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Journal
Your game changing training habit.
The Paperback Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Journal
The paperback version of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Journal. Your game changing training habit.