When I Met Jiu Jitsu In The Summer: 6 Things I've Learned In My First 3 Months Training
Oh Jiu Jitsu. I started off as an admirer from far, but as I got to know you you became my summer fling. As the leaves started to turn brown (Cue Calvin Harris’ “Summer”), I became more and more obsessed. I started doing fake take downs of my girlfriend in the street (In all reality, she’s a blue belt so really she’s the one baseball choking me) and reading about the sport. I knew virtually nothing about jiu jitsu other than it became known through the UFC and it was becoming popular not only in North America, but all over the world. I thought it was badass and I wanted to try it. I met Jiu Jitsu at Carlson Gracie Montreal this past summer and here are 6 things I’ve learned through 3 months of training:
1) Control My Movements
I have learned how to utilize my energy efficiently. When I first started, I went HAM and used up all my energy during sparring, but I am learning when to attack and when take my foot off the gas. I am learning jiu jitsu is one giant chess match.
2) Hips Don’t Lie
I have learned how important using your hips effectively are in the sport. My hips are tight and becoming more flexible has been a challenge for me, but flexibility is critical to success and it’s been fun coming up with exercises away from the mat to improve these weak muscles in my body.
3) 4 Class Sweet Spot
I have learned that 4 classes a week is my sweet spot where I have full concentration, energy, and cardio. I find if I go every day I get diminishing returns after 4 days of training. I had a group of older purple belts (guys in their 40’s and 50’s) tell me to not go everyday and to really listen to your body. A lot of them had surgery (I already have had surgery on my right knee) and issues with their bodies due to jiu jitsu and other martial arts that they had to get fixed. I am in it for the long-term so I need to properly rest. Read this great article by Jiu Jitsu Magazine about proper rest.
4) Mental Strength
When you first start jiu jitsu or anything for that matter that is skill related, you are going to fail. If I have learned anything at all from jiu jitsu is that it is incredibly humbling and to be good, one needs to FAIL ALOT. The sport takes years and years even decades to be a master in, so having small, reachable goals beyond the color of your belt is critical. For example, I want to master arm bars from guard. Also, in today’s day in age of instant gratification, jiu jitsu is the opposite of that. I’ve seen excellent athletes come in and think they will dominate from day one. That is not the case and often times, they will leave class with their bodies and egos bruised. Celebrate your small wins, but also think about where you can improve and make a game plan to attack it.
5) My Muscles Are Changing
My muscles are starting to become leaner from less lifting and more jiu jitsu. I am happy I am gaining flexibility and lean muscle, but I have had to adapt to a different body and I am okay with. I am not going to lie that I do sometimes miss lifting weights as much as I used to, but for now improving at jiu jitsu is more important to me. With work, life, and everything else, it’s hard to fit everything in, but I am happy about my progress so far.
6) All Walks of Life
Young. Old. Fat. Skinny. Student. CEO.Every body type and people from all different backgrounds come together to be equal on the mat. In one class, you could have a student, a guy that works the night shift at McDonalds, a CEO, policeman, a girl that is a makeup artist, and Demi Lovato (It’s okay I had to look her up too) Not to mention, people who do jiu jitsu are incredibly friendly and open to meeting new people. They also love to travel. (Here are my 5 reasons why traveling and jiu jitsu are perfect for each other) Check out Matsurfing for your next trip. I look forward to training in different gyms around Europe (Maybe you'll see a post or two on BJJ Globetrotters ;)) this December and January when I will be visiting for one month, but I always will remember when I first met Jiu Jitsu in the summer :)
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