Returning back to BJJ in 2021

Last week on Thursday (14/01/2021) I went back to my local MMA school that I was going to for a around 2 years; if you are in the area and are interested in going to a great MMA school with fantastic training partners and knowledgable teachers then check out Reflex Mixed Martial Arts Center. I highly recommend them not only for BJJ but MMA, boxing and just conditioning/fitness in general. The facility is extremely high quality and so is the experience too.

Originally I had not wanted to leave the school and continue training in BJJ but getting a new job in Sydney and commuting to and from work I would not be able to commit to training BJJ to the fullest. It is my belief that you should commit 100% when doing anything and not half ass it. So it would be a complete disservice to the teachers there and my training partners as I would not be able to commit 100% mental and physical effort. Plus I would be doing a disservice to myself.

With the COVID pandemic sweeping the world my current employer allowed us to work from home and this looks to be far more permanent than it being a temporary policy too. And with the COVID situation being far more under control here in Australia and appropriate safety measures and protocols in place by the NSW state government and school I felt it safe to return to continue my training. I am taking a risk going and training several times a week, but it is a calculated risk where there are little to no community transmissions in the area and there are little to no active COVID cases locally; the odds of me catching it while I train are very small and is just as likely if I was to go out and grab a coffee or shopping. I am not going to let COVID control my life in this way.

What I can say after returning back for my first training session of the year and after around 1.5 years away is that my body is still slightly sore and I was extremely rusty. The good news is that I did not forget or lose the muscle memory I had learnt with basic sweeps, escapes and moves like shrimping; but when it came time to rolling I was severly outmatched. I was out of shape and gassed very quickly and made some fundamental mistakes causing me to get locked in an armbar, triangle and rear naked choke across multiple opponents. I did not get a single submission and I tapped more than once. But submissions is not my ultimate goal so being submitted several times is not a major concern for me.

Was I happy with my performance? Absolutely not because I know I am better than what I had shown on the mats on my first day back; plus I was so exhausted after several roles I could not finish the last roll. I know I need time to get back into shape and get to where I was before with the hope of getting my blue belt in late 2021. Taking everything one step at a time and trying to get my conditioning right first which will then help me in certain situations and then back to making sure my fundamentals are right before I go back to submitting people like crazy. I am super happy to be training BJJ again 🙂

BJJ: A Physical and Mental Workout

I have been doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for nearly a whole year now and I obtained my second stripe on my white belt last Friday; I was extremely happy that I managed to get it as well, but I know there is a long way to go. I want BJJ to continue to be a part of my life for a long time to come. It has been extremely beneficial for me both physically and mentally, plus my training partners are some of the nicest people I have ever met; the ego is checked out at the door at where I train.

When I wanted to start training BJJ there were plenty of people from family and friends who asked me “why do you want to do it?“. As a UFC fan I really appreciated the ground and submission game at play and listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with the likes of Joe and Eddie talk about BJJ, how it changed and made their lives better; I thought why not give it a shot and what do I have to lose. While I was in high school I was fairly active so I was keeping fit, but as soon as I started university and began working full time, my physical activity essentially became non-existent. The only real exercise I ever did before starting BJJ was walking to and from work.

Starting BJJ was an eye opening experience. I knew I was out of shape, but I didn’t know I was that out of shape. My cardio was really bad. I had problems lasting more than a couple consecutive 5 minutes rolls at a time. So from the get go I knew BJJ was going to help get my cardio to where it should ideally be for someone my age. My cardio has gotten significantly better but personally it is not where I want it to be. I don’t gas as early but I still gas before the end of my session, something that I personally want to change in the coming year.

Learning all the various positions, submissions, etc. is extremely satisfying. Knowing that if I get into a street fight and it goes to the ground I can defend myself if they have a jacket (Gi) or they just have a shirt on (no Gi). I don’t need to physically hurt them either which is a bonus, I can painlessly subdue them while making sure I am safe. I don’t plan on getting into any fights anytime soon but if something does happen or I need to help someone, I am at least more prepared than before.

One thing that I really did not know was how much of a mental game BJJ is. Joe Rogan and others I kept hearing say that BJJ is like a physical chess match where you have to be multiple moves ahead of your opponent to beat them. I can for a fact verify this. If you clock off mentally for a split second there goes your full mount or your closed guard; you could even fall into someone’s triangle choke. You have to be on the ball and always thinking about your next move. I love this about BJJ. I have submitted people who are physically larger than me but I have also been submitted by people who are physically smaller than me. It really does feel like a physical chess match. At no point can you not be prepared.

Some days I feel really good because I didn’t get submitted or performed successfully a submission on someone, but other days I feel really bad. I either got submitted a crazy amount or I just did not have a good session. What I learn from this is that I need to continue to improve; I never take it too personally. I don’t dwell on the success or the failures for very long because I found that in BJJ your performance can change from roll to roll and session to session. Never take anything for granted because it can be taken from you so quickly. Your ego should never get the better of you and you should never feel bad when you get rolled by someone else.

Overall I feel that BJJ has made a positive impact on my life. Physically I have never felt better. Being a very competitive person it allows me to vent and release my competitive nature, otherwise I would have to do it while playing video games. Mentally it has allowed me to be both humbled when getting destroyed by people physically smaller than me and it has shown me that I have so much to learn (something that I really love doing). With every roll and session I learn new and little improvements that get added to your list of moves and positions.

After every BJJ session I come home physically exhausted and mentally drained, and I love every part of it.

BJJ White Belt 1st Stripe Incoming

I love Mondays. I know plenty of people that dread Sunday nights because of Mondays. However I am the complete opposite. Sure I have to go to work but I generally enjoy what I do at work, if I didn’t then I’d probably not be there. But what really makes me love Mondays (and Wednesdays) is going to my BJJ class at night. To make it even better and to ensure that I actually go is that I attend the school with a college. So there is no way for me to dodge a class (not that I would as I am enjoying it), but there is some accountability there 😉

As the hours tick by during the day I get more and more excited. I have been going to this school for a short period of time and I am nearly ready to attempt my first test and get my first stripe on my white belt (so excited). Everyone who I roll with is super friendly and being several stripes or belts higher destroy me but are always willing to give me tips so that I can get better during my rolls. Do I get steamrolled sometimes when we roll? Definitely, and it is not sometimes, its most of the time. Do I get super confident when I don’t get submitted and can prevent people passing my guard? Absolutely, it means I am doing something right.

I still have so much to improve on though from my guard pass protection to my triangle choke from closed guard. However by constantly training and going into the school and attending class at least twice a week and giving it my best I know I am going to get better. By not being carried away, not having a massive ego and knowing that I am still very raw at BJJ who will get submitted and passed I can learn better. Patience, practise, and perseverance will always prevail. Here is hoping my next BJJ post I’ll have my white belt with one stripe (if so then I’ll end up posting a picture).

For the people that train and practise BJJ, how are you finding it? What do you find most challenging? And what do you feel is the most important idea or concept that someone like me should take going into each class?

All the best people and good night.