So I've been training jiu-jitsu for over 8 and a half years now, and although I've always been interested in blogging about it I've only just started now. Why? Because I think it's a joke when I see blogs by people who think the world needs to hear their ideas on the fundamentals of side control, or their insight on training concepts when they are not even a black belt. Now, that's not really what I plan on doing with this blog, but I might... so I wanted to wait until I was a black belt before putting my thoughts on the subject online. That's not to say I think all blogs by lower level belts are bad... there are some excellent ones out there which focus on things other than trying to teach the online world with their blue belt knowledge. I'm also not saying that all black belts have mastered jiu-jitsu, but to be given that belt should mean your instructor believes you not only have a high level of technical skill but also an understanding of jiu-jitsu as a whole.
That's enough negative stuff though, why DO I want to blog? Because I love jiu-jitsu and I love talking about it. I also love helping other people with their training and I hope that maybe some of the stuff I can write about will be of some use to someone out there.
As this is the beginning of my blog, I guess it's fitting to discuss beginning jiu-jitsu as my first proper subject matter...
The most important thing anyone just beginning to train jiu-jitsu should understand is JIU-JITSU IS HARD. It's a very tough sport/martial art/activity/hobby (whatever you want to call it) to train and there is a very high drop-out rate, especially after just one lesson. I think what most people don't realise is that the first lesson is the same for everyone; we all went and got beaten up by everybody the first time (real beginners, not guys with years of wrestling/judo/nogi experience), we all had no idea what to do, we all felt sore as hell the next day, we all got tapped a lot. For a lot of people this is too much and they give up straight away... honestly, I'm not interested in those people. I accept that jiu-jitsu is not something everyone will like and I can't change that.
For the people who do stick with it there are still many hurdles to overcome, but the good news is that jiu-jitsu has an unbelievable amount of benefits. It will teach you skills you can use to defend yourself with, you will lose weight (assuming a sensible diet), gain strength, flexibility, agility, co-ordination and body/postural awareness, your resting heart rate will drop and you'll become much fitter. You'll become mentally tougher and able to deal with physical discomfort much easier, most people grow in confidence and find it easier to deal with other problems in their lives. It drives many to make other changes for the better in their life; giving up drink and/or drugs and eating a healthier diet. Probably the biggest benefit in my opinion is that you will meet a lot of people from a wide range of social circles who will all welcome you and see you as an equal on the mats and you'll have fun... if not, find a new club (a subject for a future post!).
So if you're just starting out and finding it tough, remember that every other person at your club and every other club went through the same. JUST KEEP TRAINING. That's all I did... I went to my first lesson in 2005, fat and out-of-shape with no prior martial arts experience, and I got my ass handed to me. I got tapped out numerous times by everyone I rolled with and I had no idea how they did it or how to stop them. I went home the most physically exhausted I'd ever been. I woke up the next day the sorest I've ever felt, I could barely walk downstairs. Straight away I knew I had to get good at doing jiu-jitsu so I went back to the next available lesson in 3 days time. There were times when I was injured and couldn't train, there were competitions where I got tapped out quickly, there were classes that I performed terribly in... but I always went back, I always trained as much as I could, and luckily I always had support and advice from my main instructor (Chris Rees, Wales' first black belt). I kept going back, I kept tapping, I kept learning, I kept increasing the frequency of my training... and 8 years 7 months later I was awarded my black belt by multiple-time world champion Braulio Estima.
Start jiu-jitsu and don't quit. It's not easy, but it's simple.