This year has been flying past, I can’t believe I started learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu almost 10 months ago! 10 months sounds like such a long time, but I feel like I am only just starting to get the hang of it.
When I started training I enjoyed it, but it was really tough. I was racking up a few injuries and training involved getting repeatedly squashed and strangled. I was the worst person in the gym and it wasn’t until quite a few months in before anyone newer and worse than me started training.
At the lowest points of those first few months I seriously considered quitting.
I think the main reason I didn’t is because of the pledge I made on this blog. I promised myself that I would give it at least 12 months and I wasn’t going to give up until then. I kept telling myself, give it to the end of the year. Keep going. Then if you still want to quit you can. It was a potential end point. A target.
But then as time went on I started to get comfortable. I settled into a nice rhythm of training 5-6 hours a week. A level where my body had enough time to recover between training sessions and didn’t constantly ache.
I started to really look forward to training sessions and in my spare time I would read the BJJ Reddit thread or watch YouTube videos. I did a couple of tournaments, got my first win, and generally just chilled out and enjoyed myself.
I’m at the back in red. The only one not to medal…
So far I have done a total of 223 hours of training in 303 days. That’s quite a bit off my original target of an hour a day, and only about half what I did in the same time-frame when learning table tennis. But I still think it is pretty good. And it is enough that the training has really started to show.
Most people at my gym are still much better than me but I am now getting to experience the full range of training partners:
- There are still people who are so good it is awe-inspiring. I feel completely useless when rolling with them but it is great to experience first hand how powerful BJJ is when performed by a master.
- There are plenty of people who are a lot better than me, but are at a level I can understand. I learn a huge amount from experiencing how they pass my defences and finish attacks. Each roll is both a lesson and a workout.
- There are some people who are a similar level to me or within touching distance. I get some great competitive rolls with them. By constantly trying to beat each other we are pushing each other to train and work harder.
- There are a few newer people who I am better than. Against them I actually get to practice the techniques we’ve been drilling in class without immediately getting shut down.
Now I have no desire to quit. When the year is up I will continue training. I still have an awful lot to learn and really want to get good at BJJ.
Which is great. But not the reason I am writing this blog post.
From early March and for the last six weeks of the challenge, I will be travelling around South America. Starting in Buenos Aires my trip will include plenty of BJJ gyms and a visit to the home of BJJ, Brazil.
This is going to be a brand new experience and one where I need your help!
Do you know any particularly welcoming gyms in South America? Do they mind gringo white belts turning up? How do you deal with a gym where they don’t speak English? Should I buy a travel Gi? Is there anything I should avoid while on my trip? How do you say “tap” in Portuguese and Spanish?!
Please leave me a comment her or drop my an email on my main blog, If we happen to be in the same area at the same time I’d love to meet up. And thanks again for everyone’s support throughout the last 300 days of crushing, choking and joint locks. Oss.