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One of our teammates Jack, got his Blue Belt last night, which was well earned, he has a unique style and is always a really fun guy to roll with. He also competes in MMA/shooto and Jiu Jitsu competitions.

I was really happy for him.

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I have been taking notes of my Jiu Jitsu journey since the very first lesson, I am currently onto my 4th notebook so I have a lot of notes.

Just writing down the details and concepts of the lesson can help enforce them into your memory, even if you never read that note again.

This is one reason I keep my bjj journal, but I also frequently go back over the notes, my BJJ journal is fairly similar to some of this blog’s entries, although the journal is documenting each lesson I attend and the specific concept that was taught or the takeaway from that lesson that is usually summed up at the end of class, I also include other things like anything I learnt during the rolls or things I feel I need to work on and just how I was feeling, basically a debrief of that lesson.

I use this blog to chronicle my journey in BJJ but more than just details on each lesson, I try for more of an overview of my progress, things that interest me and more the whole experience of training.

These two tools I have found to be quite useful, recently I was looking at one of my first posts here,

27 lesson deeps

“this week it will be the third month that I have been “training” bjj
today being the 18th of December 2012 and last night was my 27th lesson.

I was a bit worried when I first went, visualizing some sort of scene from the Karate Kid Cobrai Kai dojo of no mercy…. so it it makes it easier that where I train is a very welcoming, friendly and motivated environment.


So, after 27 1.5 hour lessons, 40 hours of training! (hey it sounds like a lot to me! ) what have I learnt ?
well the first thing I learnt and I learnt it quickly was, how little I knew, which was to be expected, everything felt awkward, I felt uncoordinated and forced in my movements, being on the ground was something I just was not used to, my feet bore the brunt of it, with the mats rubbing away the skin in what seemed like every single part that touched the mat! my knees were sore my body was sore, this IS HARD WORK!

The days after training my muscles were sore and my joints ached, my neck was sore all day at work, but it felt good to be getting some real exercise and for the first week or so I think it was more about just “warming” up my body, slowly the scabs on my feet healed and after my first month, it all just felt awkward and not completely alien, while I was still getting some skin taken by the mats it was not as bad as it had been(I could get my shoes on easily the next day..)

all I remember of my first “rolls” was that I was submitted repeatedly and by a girl, this could be a bit ego deflating but to me, it was a stunning illustration of what had caught my eye in BJJ.

3 Months on, and she could still tap me, but it wouldn’t be so easy for her now, in the 3 months; it has made me more comfortable on the floor, I may just be able to see what she is trying to do and I may just be able to protect my limbs, I may even see some room when she is moving to submit me and escape, I may now just be able to survive for the 6 minutes. “


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When I first joined 8020bjj I thought I had joined a No-Gi club, I didn’t even know there was a thing called No-Gi grappling/Jiu-Jitsu, Once I started at 8020 I quickly learnt that while technically still Jiu Jitsu it was thought of as almost separate in some of the forums and blogs I was checking out, I don’t know if its just how I remember it, as I was really just discovering this stuff but there was an attitude of being a Gi or No-Gi guy(again, this was something I picked up on the internet discussion sites and NOT at 8020).

So at first I figured I would be a No-Gi guy as I was training at a No-Gi gym(so I thought), I think my first 6 months was pretty heavily No-Gi.

Now, I do not consider them different. Each may differ in some ways(obviously grips in Gi) but it is the same thing, it is grappling.

I was told to check out Gary Tonon and I watched the BJJScout breakdown of his game.(BJJScout’s breakdowns are simply epic, they really let you see the finer details and strategies of peoples games)

This all made me think about how I am prioritizing Gi and No-Gi in my training, I know that I am slightly better Gi than No-Gi, which then drives me to focus on Gi(EGO!).
So last night is Gi class, usually I still take my Gi, during the class I wear Gi pants(then when I roll if someone else has a Gi we can roll Gi), but I decided to leave the Gi at home and just go with my No-Gi gear.

The Class had a heavy focus on No-Gi grips, particularly the Gable grip(using it in a strong half guard position that was very effective), I had a lot of fun and it has made me realize that I need to have a healthy mix of Gi and No-Gi. 8020 as a club does have a very good mix of Gi and No-Gi but I think this is more about how I am approaching No-Gi.

While it may be the case that I will always lean more towards Gi, maybe it is because of how my body type and style facilitates Gi working better for me. More likely it is because I have put in more time in the Gi, also it is driven by EGO, if I feel I do a little better in the Gi I wear the Gi more and that is something I need to fix.

It is time to refine my Jiu Jitsu, Gi and No-Gi.


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The 14th of August 2014 is a night that I will remember for a long time.
I was given a blue belt from my Instructor Dion.

I was told to remove my Gi top so that we could demonstrating a No-Gi clinch/grip(my partner was just wearing Gi pants, so that seemed completely normal) I was to control my opponents posture, basically hanging from his neck while at the same time using pressure from my elbow forearm to maintain control(push pull) he was doing the same so it was a nice clinch/stand up drill. This is something we have been working on a lot in our stand up portion of our classes.
Once that was over, I went to put my Gi back on, but instead of my raggedy frayed white, there was a brand new blue belt.

now a disclaimer I guess ?, nothing changed once I picked up that blue belt, I didn’t power up, or suddenly gain secret blue belt wisdom, I agree with the stance that a belt is a piece of cloth that keeps your pants up(well they are supposed to keep your pants up, I still need to master that technique) and I support Dion’s view that placing too much importance on belts is counter-productive.

What a blue belt can do, is allow me to enter the blue belt division at the local tournaments, the thought of this excites me a lot.

Looking Back

I am very happy, a bit overwhelmed and it is still sinking in.

I think this is a good time to reflect on the road I have traveled to get where I am today, I did not travel it alone and I would not be where I am today if it were not for my team mates and my instructor and the environment at 80/20BJJ.

Training Jiu Jitsu has given me more than just Jiu Jitsu skills, I was kind of a shy person and the social aspect of training at a friendly gym has been great, I have made real friendships there, I mean I was not an introvert or anything like that but in the last two years I have easily met a lot more people than I would have if I was not training Jiu Jitsu and I consider them my friends.

The health benefits of training Jiu Jitsu have been amazing. I looked back recently at my training notes, I was at least 93kg when I first started(most likely closer to 95kg) and I had recently lost weight as I was trying to become healthier.

Before I started improving my health I was 98kg-100kg. I think it was 6 months into training when I realized that my weight was coming down, I remember thinking “man, if I can only get to like 85kg that would be amazing!” 85kg was a hope, a long term goal. I honestly didn’t know if I would be able to get down to that weight, but Jiu Jitsu gave me the motivation to really improve my health, way more than I initially believed it would!!
I’m 76kg now and fitter and healthier than I have ever been.

This journey has been 352 lessons, 528 hours long and most people say this is when it just begins.
All this time has been obtaining the skills to start to learn Jiu Jitsu, like learning chess, before you can really play you need to understand how each piece can move on the chessboard. Once you have grasped the basics of each pieces movements then you can start playing the game, learning the strategy, the opening moves and the tactics, just learning where a rook can move on the board is not learning to play chess.

Discussing with my instructor he put a word into my mind that I’m going to focus heavily on, “refine”.
Refinement of what I am doing and refine what I enjoy doing. Over the last 22 months I have picked up some skills on how to practice Jiu Jitsu(I know how to move my chess pieces), I have drilled with my training partners and each training partner brings something unique to the drilling. If its flow rolling or guard passing, heavy pressure or a floating game, hard rolling, positional drilling and all of these seemingly at once. I have the environment, I now have to refine.


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The people behind the tournaments are doing such a great job with providing a tournament format that is great fun and IMO really adding a lot to Jiu Jitsu in Perth(if they were not running tournaments I believe there would be only one group doing them and they are points based).

Every bjj4life tournament I have been at has always had a very friendly atmosphere. They always run fairly smoothly(in the past some have run late but I think this is the nature of the game) and this last one was run incredibly smoothly, which may have been due to the fact that it was slightly down on numbers compared to the last tournament. It was a great day of awesome Jiu Jitsu! and I had a blast watching everyone compete and just hanging out with my BJJ friends.

Going into this tournament (my 5th), I was more nervous than I expected I would be, a lot more nervous than my last tournament.
I always want to learn from competing, my last competition roll I learnt a lot, this gave me things that I wanted to work on/improve for this tournament.

The number 1 thing I wanted to work on was my guard pull. In the last tournament my guard pull was less than efficient…and that would be talking it up!

Since my first tournament, my goal is to get the action to the ground, I am going to pull guard. The failed guard pull from my last tournament was really a good thing for me, it taught me how important contact and grips are when pulling guard(the rules state we can not just sit to guard contact has to be made). I had gotten lazy with the grips/contact, in my mind once there was any contact it was time to pull guard.

So this tournament I paid extra attention to the initial grip fighting, what I found was that I had more success with a left-hand under hook, I then could pull guard with a lot more control.

This under hook that I was able to get has also taught me something, as it was not something I specifically drilled(although we have drilled this kind of stuff in class) for the tournament. I am going to concentrate on this under hook, as it was something I went for(my training kicked in) in the frenzied moment at the start of the match I believe it is worth studying/drilling further.

I always take something away from a competition and this one was no different, it truly is a great way to learn as it forces you to perform under a lot of pressure, exhaustion and stress! it gets to the point where you are “running on instinct” (a quote from my instructor on the day).

Luckily we have an excellent instructor who films our rolls and then reviews them with us, as well as providing us with the videos so we can review them.

I will definitely compete in the next bjj4life competition and also take my camera! for some reason I decided not to and I regret that decision as I would have some nice photos to post here.


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