It took 8 months of convincing to get me to even visit the Peter DeBeen BJJ club in StKilda, but it only took one class to get me hooked. There will always be the stigma attached to jiu jitsu, that it’s just sweaty man wrestling on the ground… but all it takes is for someone to attempt an arm bar or triangle, for you to realise just how complex and serious an art it is.
As with everything, there is a starting point, and for most it’s after watching UFC, and thinking ‘yeah I can do that, looks easy’ … So in you go ready to fight, no idea what this thing called technique is, and using brute force, muscling your way into exhaustion and an inevitable submission by a guy who just seemed to sit there all relaxed and didn’t really do much?!
The more you train, the more you realise it is similar to a game of chess, it’s back and forth, reactionary and something you will constantly be learning … It becomes a way of life, and more than just a simple hobby. For me jiujitsu is an outlet for stress and frustration, let’s me clear my mind and refocus … It affords me the luxury to never really get stressed at work and keep a level head during those ‘crazy times’ in the office.
While training is a lot of fun, and you have a nice idea of how your advancing skill wise by rolling with people with coloured belts a lot cooler than yours … It is really only in competitions where you get an understanding of where you sit in the grand scheme of things.
My first competition was nerve racking, and saw me get smashed in both my opening fights, but I no longer had those first fight jitters, now I knew what to expect. My next comp saw me have more fights back to back, and I walked away with a shiny silver medal.
Knee surgery and a 2 year detour o Scotland took me away from jiujitsu, but it took all of 5 days back in OZ for me to have a gi on and start rolling again … I was starting again, but with a clearer understand of BJJ and 2years of MMA training with an amazing group of guys in Dundee, I had more focus and confidence. Within 6 weeks of being back, I competed in the Vics and won Gold , Silver and a couple of Bronze for my category … Sure I was white belt, but it felt good to be back competing. As soon as you get a white belt, the goal is to achieve your blue belt. At Pete’s club, he runs things differently, there are no gradings, he moves you up when he thinks you’re ready, which means in the back of your mind, you really want to prove yourself. When the PanPacific Championships came around I was ready, and had the mind set of “fuck this, I want to win and prove I’m ready for my blue belt.”
Historically whenever my parents watch me compete at any sport, I choke, and choke bad … but it was nice that that weekend was different, and my parents not only got to see what this crazy sport their son does, but also got to see me win gold in both gi and no gi, in what was the largest bracket of fights I’d ever competed in.
Sure enough, the following week I got my blue belt, and really felt like I’d earnt it, but surprisingly as soon as I put it on, it dawned on me how little I knew about BJJ … But the best thing is, I’m not overly phased, as i’ve got the rest of my life to learn it.