As of today it has been 1 year since I started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve done a lot in the past year that I never really thought I’d do. To start, the morning of August 6, 2012 I weighed 206. This morning, I was 183. I don’t think I had been under 185 since I was in high school (almost 20 years ago.) That’s been a nice side effect. I didn’t start BJJ for the weight loss factor, it was just a nice benefit.
I went from barely being able to take 2 hours of BJJ a week (1 hour on Monday and 1 on Wednesday), to averaging close to 7 hours a week of BJJ. I struggled through the warmups the first time I took a class with Charles. Now I get up at 5:30am 3 days a week to put my body through a bootcamp type workout at the gym.
I passed my white belt stripe test. Demonstrating that I at least had a basic understanding of a handful of moves and could perform them when asked.
I started attending sparring class two times a week back in November. I now spar 4 hours a week most weeks (competition weeks being the exception.) One of my early sparring classes saw me getting arm-barred no less than 8 times in 1 hour. Now I’ve actually submitted some people. I also went from routinely getting tapped multiple times in each match to now having matches where I might not tap at all.
I’ve trained hurt. I broke one of my toes (first broken bone I remember having), taped it up and was back at class the next day. I’ve had various bruises on just about every part of my body, including what must have been a bone bruise. The bone bruise did occasionally knock me out of practice as it was just too painful for someone to grab my leg.
I’ve been able to provide people with gift ideas. I used to never have much I wanted for my birthday or Christmas (besides books, and a lot of people don’t think of books as gifts.) Now I can ask for rashguards, gis and other BJJ related stuff.
I’ve also competed in 2 tournaments (or 4 if you include the in-house tournaments.) That means I paid money and went to an event, lining up across the mat from someone who’s sole objective was to choke me out or take my arm off. To be fair, those were also my objectives. In some ways, this is the most surprising to me, because I didn’t think I’d compete in BJJ. I’ve won some medals in those tournaments.
In addition to the physical aspects there are other things I’ve done in the past year. I’ve experienced humility when in one match I’d tap my partner only to be tapped by him a mere minute later. I’ve learned some perseverance, from both trying to escape a bad position and trying to get out of a possible submission. One of the first time’s I sparred I tapped when my partner was in Kesa-Gatame, and told him it was due to me being “out of shape.” I learned, though, that while that position was uncomfortable, if I don’t give up, I can escape (sometimes.) I reaffirmed that the more you learn the less you know. One year of practicing something seems like a lot of time and a lot of effort. Especially when you talk about 200+ hours. But I’m still just a single-stripe white belt. From a learning stand point, I’ve just started.
I also learned how to be a better version of myself. Granted, I’m just a white belt and so I don’t have a real well defined game yet, but I know there are things I like to do (play closed guard) and things I don’t like to do (hang out in mount.) At our gym we have a wide variety of body sizes, athletic ability and experience. Trying to emulate the 250lb college wrestlers makes no more sense than trying to emulate the fast 150lb guys. I have to figure out what works for me and tailor it for how I want to play.
I look forward to what is to come in the next year, and the years after that. I’m sure a common theme for each year will be “Looking back on a year ago, I now realize how I didn’t even know what I didn’t know.”