A Guest Writer.
I love it when people I roll with interact with the blog, and this is one of those occasions. I’ll let Blake tell his own story. Enjoy.
Over to Blake
This year I turned 37 and I started Brazilian Ju Jitsu classes.
It’s a completely new world for me (I’m not counting the Karate class I did when I was 3) and I’ve fallen in love with it. I started with one class a week; I’m a chef and it can be difficult to get the time to commit to classes because of the unpredictability of shifts. Fortunately I’m now in a position where I can go twice a week.
I joined a gym called Flo Martial Arts and it’s a world class facility (pro fighters words, not mine). The ethos of the gym is ‘no shoes, no egos’, which is rare for any gym, let alone one where high calibre athletes train. We are taught by exceptional coaches, headed by a world class black belt. Everyone is bloody lovely, willing to give their time and advice to help you drill positions etc ,especially the higher grade white and blue belts probably because they are not far removed from the where I’m at right now.
I train twice a week in the 101 class. I’m probably ready to go to 201 which is the mixed ability class but I really want to nail the basics and feel like I’m at a competent level before I upgrade. This isn’t because I’m scared, it’s because I suck at Jujitsu. I’m picking it up at my own pace and the longer you train you realise that everyone is working at their own level- , there are people that started later than me who are progressing quicker and younger me would have hated this. Being older, having had success and failures professionally I don’t care about other people as much as I’m focussing on my own journey. Particularly, the experience I’ve had as a younger chef has taught me not to pay attention to what others are doing as it’s easy to lose focus and comparing yourself to someone else doesn’t generally end well.
I like things that are a challenge and BJJ is definitely that. I’m ok with sucking because anything that is tough to master is worth the reward of the moment where something clicks into place. It’s pushing me out of my comfort zone and I’m learning just what my physical and mental limits are. Too many people look for an easy life and I’ve never really gone in for mainstream so Jujitsu really suits me in that respect. It’s punishing and tough and not an easy win. I think it triggers the same part of my brain that cooking does; that tiny detail to get a flavour right is the same as gaining a position in Jujitsu, so for me it all comes full circle.
You quickly learn how fragile your ego needs to be as you’re constantly being battered by someone with more knowledge and a better grasp on grapples but that’s how you learn. Coming from a life time of playing basketball where ego is everywhere and it’s vital because you need to prove to everyone how good you can be either making crazy shots or dropping your defender with a nice crossover I’ve found the adjustment in mindset hard,coming from ego driven profession and basketball Ive got a bunch of basketball injuries and being destroyed by a guy or gal half my size (I’m 6’6”) really heightens those aches and pains and reminds me how far I have to go, but it makes me more determined to take my time, nail the basics and fires my enthusiasm for the sport.
Jujitsu changes your off mat perspective; if you put yourself in tough situations and you come out of it smiling you soon realise that mentality can potentially be applied to the rest of life. Every week I learn more self awareness, not to mention leaving every roll buzzing with endorphins.
I think everyone should try Jujitsu because it’s a sport for everyone. And if I can do it anyone can. I’ve just got my second stripe on my white belt which was well unexpected.
Thank you to Blake for that. We all have a different journey in BJJ but the things we share are the desire to face the challenge and enjoy it.
The post today was brought to you with the support of this Tshirt.