Well I first decided I wanted to learn BJJ after watching UFC about 15 years ago but then I started playing rugby and that took over my life. I played at a good level until a bad skiing accident wrecked my knee, broken thigh bone, broken and double dislocation of the ankle, broken knee cap, snapped patella tendon, interior and anterior medial ligaments gone, ACL ruptured and shin broken. All in all over 2 years of surgery and re hab, during which my weight ballooned from 17 st 7 lbs of pretty fit muscle to 25 st 10 lbs.
So it was at this point in October 2008 after once again getting back into the UFC and combat of that kind that I decided to look for a BJJ gym. I had a google found 2 in Sheffield picked one and went down, and too this day I thank the lord that I picked the one that I did.
I decided on The Forge http://www.theforge-ma.co.uk/ and have never looked back. John Goldson is the owner and head honcho of the school plus the number one trainer, we also have input from British black belt Ben Poppleton as well as Lucio Sergio (a world class Brazilian born Black Belt) and all of our belts are given to us by Lagarto who is a multiple world champion and the head of the Gracie Barra school in Europe.
Now like all folk I have made my mistakes but I was welcomed back by John and the team as everyone deserves a second chance and that is the motto “Organised like a team, Fight like a family” and I have never looked back or wanted to be anywhere else.
So I walked in mid Oct 2008 without a Gi as my girlfriend said I had to wait until I liked it to buy one (yes I know but we are all the same :))
I liked it and I liked it alot, it was all I had wanted to find since I quit playing rugby, I used to get so bored in the gym hence my weight climb and this was something that would get me fit and that I loved. So I bought my Gi a Keiko Raca one in an A5 which at the time was the largest they had sent to the UK (I am still secretly quite proud of that) and it began.
I spent months on my back or side getting pummelled by everyone, my total lack of fitness began to tell and all I did was defend. As the months went by I got better at defending and fitter too boot. I started going to all the sparring classes and made some good friends all of whom would kick my ass but then tell me how they had done it, how I could stop it and encourage me that I was getting better.
I learnt some attacks but perhaps most importantly my weight came down from 25 st 10 lbs to 21 st 10 lbs and then the breakthrough came. John explained that I needed to learn how to use my weight coupled with technique and not just strength, learn control and submissions would come later. So this is all I worked on for some months, side control and mount mainly. I then learnt an arm bar from the side and an ezekiel choke and I was all set for my assault on actually winning a few sparring sessions.
During this period I went through from one to three stripes and then in December 2009 Lagarto and John really surprised me and presented me with my blue belt. This was a moment which I had not been expecting and it filled me with so much pride, I admit I almost cried and definitely felt a bit shaky as I went round shaking everyone’s hands. Even the standard whipping did not worry me as it meant I had made it.
Never been happier then I am right now and the forge offers one of the highest levels of BJJ anywhere in the country in my opinion, and the results seem to back this up.
Since then I have trained with London Shootfighters, Royce Gracie, sparred with a few pro cage fighters, met some very cool people and managed to get my first strip and my first competition medal in the same month, but more of that to follow…….