So, I am a few days shy of my four month mark in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Can you believe it?
I remember a little over four months ago. I was driving around going nuts trying to find some sort of martial art to keep me physically fit and to maintain my body’s lethal-ness. Okay, well maybe I wasn’t lethal before…oh hell, I’m still not lethal, but at least I am a bit more physically fit.
A few weeks into Jiu Jitsu training, I got a few back spasms. That really stunk. They were from using muscles that I have probably never used. I was just telling Laura today how good my back has been feeling lately. At my age, it’s important to keep the body doing all sorts of moves and exercises and I seriously can’t think of anything better for that than Jiu Jitsu. One of the stretching exercises I do every time we have class is to lay on my back and lift my legs all the way over my head until my feet are touching the floor. I never used to be able to do that. It’s a great stretch by the way.
For the past few weeks, I have been working out with two guys – one is my fellow classmate and the other is my instructor. They are both much better than me and really great to train with for this stuff. Since I am the newest, my instructor has his work cut out for him. Every so often, my classmate chimes in with some good advice. It’s like I am getting private lessons. Hey, not a bad deal.
I have been getting better. I can feel it. I am not getting my butt kicked as bad as I used to and I am starting to implement some submissions as opposed to just playing defense the whole time. I am also getting better at keeping pressure on my opponent (physical pressure by using the weight of my body) and I have gotten MUCH better at not getting completely exhausted every time I go out there with someone. That was a huge obstacle when I first started. I didn’t like the feeling of losing, so I used all my strength to stop what was happening. I would tire myself out to the point of being useless.
From what I have gathered, Jiu Jitsu requires some degree of intelligence to progress at. It’s not walking out on the mat to randomly see what happens. You need to have a plan and to be able to moderate yourself. You need to find your opponent’s weaknesses and exploit them. It’s a tricky thing and it’s as much in the head as it is in the body. Maybe that’s why I like it so much.
Today was a great day. After about 45 minutes of getting a great workout, my instructor walked over to me and put another blue stripe on my white belt. He said that I was getting much better and then offered some advice on the day’s matches. Always good advice, I just wish that I was able to use more of it. It’s not the easiest thing to try to submit guys who have years of experience at this stuff.
I will say this – there is a real benefit of working out with guys who have so much more experience than I have. While I do play defense, I am learning what types of moves to defend against. For example, back in the beginning, I would just stick my arms up in the air to stop whatever was coming at me. Now, let’s just say my arms don’t go up in the air nearly as much as they used to and I use many alternative strategies to defend myself. Every so often, I actually get in top position to see where I can go from there. It’s fun. Hey, only eight more months of doing what I’m doing and I might be close to my blue belt. I am looking forward to that challenge.
Here is a pic of my belt and a nice motivational video. By the way, stop by to say hi and you might want to give Jiu Jitsu a try yourself – Jiu Jitsu near Hartford, CT (located in Glastonbury).