The 20th of March 2017 was the date that marked my second promotion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as a white belt.

I came in to this sport not knowing much of anything at all. Or better yet, how to even properly defend myself in situations that may occur either on the street or on the mats. One of the biggest problems I had when I first started was my explosive and rapid movements that I conducted throughout training (which I quickly learnt was probably not the smartest option if I ever were to be involved in any altercation). You’re probably wondering why – isn’t that a good thing? To be overwhelming your opponent and being strong enough to pin specific limbs down?

Being short of breath?  Sucks.
Instantaneous encounter of fatigue after a short period of time? Sucks.
Running out of options and feel like I’m restricted into confined positions? S U C K S.
From that moment on, my ego was dropped immediately and all I ever wanted to do at that given point was to learn, adapt and try to juice out all the advice/information on how to fight and position myself to advance.

After gaining my second stripe and getting a picture taken with my awesome and down to Earth instructors, I sat on the floor, began my normal stretching routine and started to reflect on what I had learnt throughout my current journey in Jiu Jitsu. A discussion promptly proceeded to open up between my best mate Rowan about our progression during our stretch session and flowed all the way on towards our walk to the car. The atmosphere of the discussion quickly started to project towards feeling like one of those cheesy YouTube motivational videos about bodybuilding or someone’s journey on how they were about to build up the courage and resilience to break through hard times in their life.

Myself (left black Gi) with Rowan (right black Gi) getting  our second stripes!

Joining the gym is one of the best highlights of my life to date. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and what I want to achieve in life, but I was never quite sure where I should start. It has completely turned my life upside down and opened my eyes. Each training session entails a brand-new challenge. Whether it is rolling with someone that you have never met before or trying to start a match in a position where you are most vulnerable e.g. from my perspective, a back-take scenario, the only thing on my mind when I’m at Jiu Jitsu is having fun. Have fun with it. Play around with people. Experiment.

Unless you’re a technical grand-master and an elite expert at it, you’ve gotta lose some to win some. I’ve always employed a positive mentality whilst I’m at the gym – meaning that I don’t always concentrate on winning a fight. I’m there for a reason, I’m there to learn and test myself. Often, I get told that I should stop giggling and laughing whilst in the middle of a roll by people that are playing seriously. But I just can’t help it. It’s way too fun! It’s funny when I get swept by something unexpected and I think to myself “damn! That was pretty awesome haha! Gotta keep that one in mind for next time”. My point is, take a laugh, enjoy it, and make the best memories whilst you’re rolling with your friends. I guarantee they will last a lifetime.

On a conclusive note, something that I have particularly noticed during my time spent in Jiu Jitsu is that whether it is learning completely new moves from unknown fighting terrains, to picking up small pieces of detail which were often missed during previous classes, the opportunities of enhancing your personal Jiu Jitsu game furthers the connection between instructor and student. Being able to hear and reflect on feedback from others is obviously a game changer. Whether they admit that the position you’ve held is incredibly tight or they give constructive criticism on how to improve a submission, you’ve got to show signs of respect and provide diligence and a motive to work towards their advice. After all, they may just have more experience than you.

In my personal opinion, this is how you will start to (or at least how I forced myself to) up your Jiu Jitsu game as a beginniner white belt. Appreciate the fact that you have people willing to sacrifice their time for you to experiment on them. Take their feedback if they give you any and try to work on it throughout your rolls leading up to your next unknown promotion. You will start to get the feeling of advancement and people will notice that you really are improving your ground game.

Jiu Jitsu is a universal language we all learn to speak, we just have to learn how to communicate by utilizing it.

// Charles


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