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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 http://bjj4life.com.au 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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To prepare for competition I do not do much differently than normal training, I do tone it down as it gets closer to the day, avoiding injury is essential, I have found that I’m prone or more aware of small niggles or tweaks the week before the competition, a stubbed toe, pulled muscle can add uneeded stress suffering from anything more serious could prevent you from competing.

for my previous competitions I really watched what I eat leading up the competition, although I do not make drastic changes, some things I did immediatly before the competition I have now realised, were not really the best idea.

The day before:
So the competitions are usually a sunday, this lets me train saturday, it is my routine to train saturday, very rarley would anything occur that would prevent me from attending so the day before I compete I train, but I take it very light, I warm up, stretch and just move.

The night before:
I will generally eat Salmon with Salad and drink water(apart from coffee I really only drink water anyway), this has been generally the last major meal I eat before I compete.

The morning of the competition:
Coffee, first thing I have is coffee with milk and nothing until I weigh in.

After weigh in:
I would now have water, Bannas and a protein bar.

I would then try to wait until about around 1 hour before I would have my first roll, I will then warm up as hard as I can, I want to do more than just get a sweat I want to basically feel like I have pushed myself.

So this has pretty much become my routine, but after doing some reading I have found a few things I am going to change this time.
Weighing in is not going to be an issue for me, I was going to try to enter the lightweight division, but im not confident I am going to get into that division easily, so I’m going into Middle weight, this means the night before, my last main meal is going to be something a lot heavier, a more protein rich meal.
The morning of the competition at least 3 hours before I compete I will eat high carb foods, from the Australian Institute of sports website, they suggest “The following foods are suitable to eat 3-4 hours before exercise:

crumpets with jam or honey + flavoured milk

baked potato + cottage cheese filling + glass of milk

baked beans on toast

breakfast cereal with milk

bread roll with cheese/meat filling + banana

fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt

pasta or rice with a sauce based on low-fat ingredients (e.g. tomato, vegetables, lean meat)

The following snacks are suitable to eat 1-2 hours before exercise:

liquid meal supplement

milk shake or fruit smoothie

sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein content)

breakfast cereal with milk

cereal bars

fruit-flavoured yoghurt

fruit

The following foods are suitable to eat if there is less than 1 hour before exercise*:

sports drink

carbohydrate gel

cordial

sports bars

jelly lollies”

So now expecting to come in at the lower end of the weight for my division I’m going to experiment with increasing what I consume before I roll, using the above as a guide.

One thing I was doing which I really didnt know if it was good or not and had only really heard opinions on the issue was the rigourious warm-up before the actual competition, the AIS website gives this reason for doing so.

“Include some high-intensity activity in your warm-up. This helps to stimulate glucose release from the liver and prevents blood glucose levels from dropping too low.”

But it doesn’t really provide a time-frame to perform this warm-up but I will make sure I do a very rigorous warm up.


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well not really, I am not someone who really believes in cutting at my level, I am a recreational Jiu Jitsu practitioner, I do it for fun. The reward is in the doing.

Weight cutting is not, watching what you eat, not gorging and eating clean and healthy.
That is what I’m doing, simply eating healthy and by doing this I have come down in weight, where once I nudge the scales to the 100kg mark I now hover it at 75kg.

This Sunday there is a competition and I have to register for the weight division, previously I was entering 76-82.3kg division but now I am the bottom of that division, the 70-76kg division is a real possibility, but these weights include the Gi.

Now I am hovering at 75kg, sure I could make 76kg with the Gi on but I could also come in at 76.5kg…

So my first step in deciding what division is talk to my instructor, then put a Gi on and get on the scales, then register.

In the end of the day it matters not what division I am in, as I’ll be in the masters what really matters is actually getting a roll.
In my experience the 70-76kg division seemed to have more competitors in it than the heavier categories so I guess I would prefer to get into that division but I will let the scale decide on that.

This competition is a submission only event, my goals for this competition is to improve on some parts of my game I felt my last competition exposed, I feel that competing is a really good way to learn. Win or lose you learn, last time I learnt that my guard pull was inefficient, that my grip fighting needed work and I needed to “tighten” my overall game, I guess efficiency was the lesson I needed to learn.
Now it is all well and good to write it out on a blog, these are the things I need to do.. but doing it on the mat is a whole other beast.


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Watching someone, from their first lesson and with each lesson building up the confidence, skills and Jiu Jitsu “mindset” is really cool.

While I would be the first to admit that I am still working on each of these aspects of my Jiu Jitsu myself, I really enjoy seeing the improvements my training partners are making.

From the one who has always been able to handle me easily, continue to stay one(more likely two or three) steps ahead of me while rolling is very inspiring.

To the person who only had a little exposure to Jiu Jitsu when they first started at 8020 and in a few months they are using Jiu Jitsu to shut down my game. Forcing me to learn, this is what it is all about!

Watching people use their bodies efficiently and effectively is awesome, when I first started I had this belief that weight was irrelevant in BJJ, that in BJJ skill was EVERYTHING, well in some ways that is true, for example, someone who is well trained, going against someone who is a lot bigger and stronger but completely untrained my money is on the Jiu Jitsu dude.
But this advantage gap is made much smaller once both people have Jiu Jitsu training.(ignoring the brown/higher belt vs white/lower belt both have jiu jitsu training but one is basically a wizard!).

Here is a good example
Paulo is incredible for getting to the finals in the Absolute division and maybe people will disagree with me using this example as a size advantage, maybe I’m a little biased towards the Miyaos…

Now, I wonder this:
Because of how much I enjoy seeing my training partners improve, what must it be like for an instructor to see people come off the street with simply no understanding of BJJ and slowly after time build an understanding of the art, watching as a person turns into a better version of themselves, as that is what I see happening.
I know that a big part of improving at Jiu Jitsu is from working with your fellow training partners but that ignores a very important aspect of this whole thing and that is for proper improvement and self development to take place you simply need more than training partners, even if they are the best training partners(which I say 8020BJJ guys are!) you need:

  • A place to train.
  • Structured training.
    • Days dedicated to a single aspect of BJJ for example.
    • Also an instructor that links concepts together(and is able to explain them well).
  • Top down influence (basically setting the atmosphere of the gym) and a SAFE place to train, 8020BJJ made me welcome from my very first contact with the club.
  • And guidance, not just telling someone what they want to hear.

We have that at 8020BJJ. That is our instructor, an instructor who encourages us to experiment, an instructor who encourages us to develop our own style, who will stay after class and answer our questions, provides us with material/resources/links to study based on our own body types, styles and abilities.

An instructor who is always helping us to become a better grappler and I think as a side affect of that, a better person(there has been a lot said about how training Jiu Jitsu can make someone a better person).

As someone who only knows Martial Arts from what I saw when my father was active in Karate while I was a child, on TV/UFC/YouTube and primarily 8020BJJ. 8020 has had a deeply positive impact on my life.


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