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BJJ: What I’ve learned

Mark Chen
Physiotherapist, Personal trainer, Sports Nutritionist.

 

 

I’ve only been into BJJ for a short time and consider myself an absolute newbie. However, even in the short amount of hours I’ve spent on the mat, there are some interested things I’ve learned from it.

 

 

1. Let go of your ego

I’ve always been pretty good at sports. There’s upsides to this (obviously) which is that I tend to pick up quite fast whenever I undertake some kind of new activity. There’s a downside to it as well ; I expect myself to be good at it.
Now here’s a tricky part because I consider myself above average strong, healthy, flexible and reasonably smart, And that’s the mindset I had when I went into my first training sessions.
Ready to go and more importantly, show these other people how strong I am.
How wrong I was.

-It wasn’t just the fact that I ended up losing my consciousness wanting to be to tough to tap-

No, the most surprising factor to me was how little my strength and fitness could do for me on the mat. No matter what I tried, I ended up getting tied up, strangled and gassed quicker, the harder I went in.
A couple of sessions later I let go of my desire to be better than others and decided instead, to take any session as an opportunity to learn. And you know what?
This change in mindset allows me to relax more (I don’t care about “winning” or “losing” during training) and creates space in my head to actually pick up and learn rather than losing energy on trying to prove myself.

2. People that do BJJ are cool

I’ve experienced before that people practicing martial arts in general are very cool and easy going people. This was the case in Teakwondo, Thaiboxing and Krav Maga. I believe it has something to do with them being centered, at ease with their self, and being able to channel their emotions and energy in a very efficient way. At least, that’s how it works for me. But the athletes I’ve been rolling with since I started are all a level beyond this. They’re not just nice to train with, but friendly people that seem sincerely interested in helping you become better as well. It’s nice to feel welcome and at home at a place where you train.

3. Importance of breathing

More and more I look into breathing, the more I’m seeing the overlooked importance of it. But BJJ kind of “forced” me to address it. Simply put, my first training sessions were borderline panic when it came to sparring.
I felt as if I could do nothing. 

No sense of control, no use of my power, no way out.

And you know what is the absolute worst thing to do in a situation like this?

To stop breathing

Thing is, you need to be made aware of this. So something as simple as my training partner telling me to start breathing and relax instead of struggling around like I was about to be killed, makes a gigantic difference when applied,

  • The stress levels go down significantly
  • Energy management is suddenly an option
  • There is space to think and learn

It’s such an easy thing to forget about but it made a world of difference to me.

This video gives an amazing explanation of why good breathing is such a helpful tool.

4. There is so much more to learn

As I mentioned in the start of this article, I’m a complete newbie to the sport. I feel like I’m presented with an enormous encyclopedia of which I get to read just one page at the time, and need to re-read it time and time again to actually understand it.

But I like that.   I have a feeling this sport will become more and more interesting as I put more time into it and that it what I’ll try to do.

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