Since starting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) in early 2016, I have been personally overwhelmed with the bombardment of questions from friends, family and co-workers asking:
- What the hell is BJJ? Is that some sort of ninja martial arts?
- Why / what made you pick up BJJ?
- What belt are you?
- Wanna fight bro?
As most of these questions are regularly asked and are carried throughout conversations with recognizable faces I bump into on the daily, I thought it’d be a great time to explain what BJJ is to me, why I was so eager to step foot into such a foreign gym as a beginner and a white belt student – and by foreign gym, I mean why did I make such a drastic switch from powerlifting to a glorious martial art?
The answer is simple. I decided to train smart, but train hard.
During my time in the weight-lifting world, I calibrated myself to spend my free time looking up programs, critiquing my technique and form, and most importantly, keeping my nutrition at a steady level, whether it was time to bulk or cut a bit of weight. However, I slowly started to realize something…the level of cardio and mobility my body could only produce at the state I was in was absolutely horrendous. Being around 96kg at the time, I didn’t believe that I would ever be able to be flexible and reactive. I was strong, explosive, yet, had a big amount of body fat on my person. I lacked the mobility and was craving for a way to loosen up the body, its muscles, and loosen up my mind. So, I simply decided to explore and weigh out my options.
I thought to myself, on a bright sunny morning, that I had to find something to keep myself sane – meaning I had to pick an activity that would keep my heart rate up, keep me sweaty and keep me challenged in a mental and psychological context. Watching Conor McGregor fight Jose Aldo back in UFC 194 was one of the biggest highlights which provided me the drive to start a close quarters based martial art. Although McGregor finished him off within 13 seconds of his fight via a one-punch knockout, the match provided me the drive to spend hours on YouTube watching his previous mixed martial arts (MMA) fights and a majority of his training sessions leading up towards his debut as a world champion. I wanted to feel Conor’s adrenaline, his ambition towards fighting and his passion for knocking his opponents out.
Although it sounds like I’m totally fan girl-ing over a completely new sport, I haven’t completely given up on powerlifting just yet – I’d like to call it a small ‘break’. Having to deal with multiple injuries and personal setbacks sucks… hard! Fighting a battle with patella tendinopathy in my left knee and dislocating my left thumb days before my most recent (and first) BJJ competition meant I had to cut out heavy weightlifting, at least for a little while until things start to progressively get better.
Apart from feeling like you’re going to pass out after being choked on your first couple of weeks in Jiu Jitsu, on the plus side you see improvements in progressive cardiovascular health and most importantly social networking! All I can say is BJJ is an exhilarating self-defense sport. It trains the mind through understanding techniques and leverages, yet, forces you to move the body in order to execute strategies and movements. Not to mention it’s a hell of a killer workout.
And sure, I’m always up for a fight if you ask me!!
Leave me a comment below if you have any questions about BJJ or my current journey and I’ll definitely get back to you!