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.
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.