Monthly Archives: September 2010

Prove yourself but do it right

This is a general post aimed at anyone who is looking to start the fantastic journey which I am on of BJJ it is not aimed at any people as it talks about something that happens up and down the country and in almost every sport not just BJJ.

So I am new to BJJ and going down to class for the first time, I guess I need to prove myself show everyone I am a tough guy yeah?

No. Categorically that is not what you need to do in any way but it is a mistake which is made my quite a lot of new comers to classes all up and down the country.

I was a new comer not so long ago and I know how it feels, the new boy at school feeling but even worse as you are walking into an environment of people who know a martial art and who will inevitable roll with you and submit you.

There are really then 2 choices I guess, the first which is the path I tried to take and the like of Naz and Chaz after me took which is to work hard, show willing, take your licks, tap out often and come back for more. Try to learn as much as you can from everyone you roll with, show willing to help out all you can with other new folks. Just in generally show you are part of the team and also part of the family. It is an environment as I have stated before unlike almost any other, it is like a brother/sister hood and those in the family stay with you and will be there to help. This can feel daunting at first but if your gym is anything like mine it takes very little time to fit in and be accepted as soon as you show you are there and committed and keep turning up and working hard you are set. This is the way that almost everyone chooses and it is the one that works, people will take to you, help and support you.

However there are some that take a second route, which while it is understandable it is not the right way and will not help long term. This is the method which involves walking into the gym seeing what is going on and trying to go as hard and rough as you can. The mentality based around “I haven’t got the skill but I am strong” or as my Mum says “Strong in the arm soft in the head”. This is not the way to go, hurting folk or just going rough will not help you fit in it will not help you become a team member. More importantly maybe, you may beat a higher belt with power and roughness but what do you learn from that, what technique do you pick up, how does this better you? The answer is that it doesn’t and this is an important lesson as BJJ like most sports, jobs and life styles always has those at the start and those further on and one helps bring the other along. That is certainly something John is a great advocate of he always makes sure that we know a higher belt should always be respected but that they have the duty to help lower belts along.

Now at most places you will always get a second chance and be asked politely to try technique not power and violence, most high belts and slightly higher ones like myself will generally allow this new over eagerness and not react. But do not mistake the kindness and good hearted nature of people for weakness, if you continue down the wrong path it will not help you develop or really enjoy and love your BJJ.

Just remember, you do not need to prove yourself to others and to the gym, just show commitment, hard work and the willingness to be part of a great thing, and prove yourself to yourself as after all this is the most important thing.

13/09/10 Starting weight 22st 11lbs / 319lbs / 145kgs
20/09/10 Now 22st 8lbs 316lbs / 143.5kgs

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.



Filed under BJJ

Don’t call it a comeback

As I have actually been here for quite some time now (I believe that is how the song goes)

So am back from my holidays in Tenerife and I honestly do feel like a new man, and no that is not a switch in lifestyle choices, I mean in myself.

First two weeks of doing almost nothing for ages and I feel fitter than I have in years, not so much physically, we will get to that, but mentally and just general well being.

Anyway holiday first and to be honest it was great but as this is a BJJ blog mainly I shall gloss over that and talk about the Tenerife BJJ School I found and my first day there. Gracie BJJ Tenerife is alive and well and based out of a Gym in the town of Los Cristianos and the main school at Adeje just outside Los Cristianos.

The Canary Islands have a strong tradition of combat sports and in fact the islands have their own brand of Canarian wrestling known as Lucha Canaria which is similar grappling wise to African wrestling especially the Senegalese style.

So it was no shock to find a BJJ school and I got in contact with Fabian who runs the gym in Los Cristianos, and is a BJJ Purple belt, where the Gracie school works from 24hr Fitness about coming to roll, he was more than happy for me to do this.

Thus I found myself down at the gym at 7am (on holiday remember, this is commitment) and met the man who now runs the schools on the Island, Mr Sandro Heil, who asked where I was from and when I said Sheffield almost immediately replied, “ah yes Lucio Lagarto I know him well come on in.”

Sandro then left me to roll with some of his pupils and at the start I did well, even got a couple of nice butterfly sweeps but then the heat hit me. Like all BJJ gyms I seem to roll in it was a very hot room to start with, coupled with the fact that Tenerife was having a bit of a heat wave this all became tough. My endurance dipped but I kept pushing and rolling for the hour but with diminishing returns.

Then as a lot of the lads were working at 8 and Sandro did not have to be at the main school till after 9 he came and worked with me one on one for an hour or so. This was great as he is a Brazilian Brown Belt 4 stripe with over 20 years rolling and had trained under Carlos Gracie Junior amongst a catalogue of other respected and top level guys, including Lagarto. He runs the schools now on Tenerife and works with Tenerife Grappling as well as the Vale Tudo team on the Island.

The session was fantastic and quite different to some of the teaching I have had in the past as it is very competition based all on points scored and how to maximise this. He had seen my sweep and thought it was OK but wanted me to finish in mount not side (where I am more comfortable and have more submissions) as mount is more points. There is also a greater emphasis on movement at quite a rate and less about settling into a position and then establishing. Of course the fundamentals are the same as is the ethos and also the ease at which he bested me at times, not unlike rolling with a certain Mr Goldson back in Sheffield. All in all it was a great session and I thoroughly enjoyed it was well as learning a good few things.

However this past fortnight has made me take a genuine look at myself and I realise that I have to address my fitness. Not for any other reason now than it is holding me back, I am feeling very positive and I think the real struggle I had with the heat and my fitness coupled with some family history of medical issues as finally kicked my butt into action.

So I start today 13/09/10 some 4 stone lighter then I started BJJ but far too heavy. Starting weight 22st 11lbs / 319lbs / 145kgs watch this space as it will come down and no mistake.

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people. ~Orson Welles


Filed under BJJ, Holiday