Wednesday, November 18, 2015

BJJ Brick podcast submission

The BJJBrick podcast requested submissions answering the question "What has Jiu Jitsu done for you?" for their 100th episode. I submitted an MP3 the transcript of which appears below. Not sure it totally answers the question, but ... what the hell.

Check them out - they have great episodes with David Meyer and Carlos Machado, among many others.

In the space of a single week in December 2013, I quit my last job, turned 59, and was awarded my black belt in Jiu Jitsu.

Just about everything else changed, but Jiu Jitsu remained substantially the same. I retired from work, but not from Jiu Jitsu or living life to the full.

I train three to five times a week, mostly at Langes MMA in Sydney, Australia, with regular visits to a few other gyms.

After training at Langes on a warm day, I can take a short drive to the beach for a run along the sand and a swim in the ocean. If I want. The way the global climate seems to be heading, swimming on sunny mid-winter days in Sydney is doable. I am fortunate to live a life so enjoyable.

Jiu Jitsu is a social activity. I have refereed hundreds of matches. I competed at the IBJJF Sydney Invitational earlier this year. I go to a competition and see dozens of people who are happy to see me, as I am to see them.

But what still excites me the most is waking up and thinking, yes, today I'm going to the academy to train. I regard the three instructors who have helped me the most - Anthony, Peter, and Darko - as good friends, and I have many others who try to sweep, choke and armbar me regularly.

My last seminar was with Gui Mendes. It paid off - I managed a berimbolo against a blue belt the last time I rolled. Gui and Rafa are mind-blowing to watch. But there are three quote celebrity unquote instructors who have impressed the most.

My introduction to Jiu Jitsu was at a John Will seminar. Over the years I have yet to come across a better coach. John doesn't just teach, he inspires. Go to a seminar with him if you can. You will come away with many new ideas to consider. About life as well as Jiu Jitsu.

Carlos Machado is a really nice man. He has remembered me at each visit to our gym. He teaches a narrative of related techniques that is state of the art, but requires little in the way of speed, strength or athleticism. Stuff anyone can do. He makes it all appear so effortless. And if you do it properly, it can be. I wish.

I applaud Steve Maxwell for his unique lifestyle and willingness to follow his own path. While best known for his strength and conditioning expertise, which equals that of anyone on the planet, that tends to overshadow how good his Jiu Jitsu is and how well he teaches it. Spend time with him if you ever get the chance, he is an amazing exemplar and very generous with his deep knowledge and his time. Especially if you want to be doing Jiu Jitsu into your sixties and beyond. I've tried yoga, but Steve's breathing and mobility drills, and Jiu Jitsu, give me all it did and more.

This art is infinite. Not just the breadth of techniques, which expands daily, but the technical layers, depth and possibilities inherent in each individual technique. There is no end to Jiu Jitsu.

My black belt. It happened at the annual big end of year grading at my academy. Mat packed to capacity, great atmosphere. Two of my classmates, Andrew and Dave, were also awarded their black belts. Like me, they'd done the hard yards over many years.

The same night, a guy called Ronnie, a blue belt, came up afterwards and congratulated me. He then told me that some of my teaching efforts at the school where I started Jiu Jitsu, Rick Spain's Kung Fu academy, were what inspired him to begin his own Jiu Jitsu journey.

Knowing that my enthusiasm for this art inspired him to tread a similar path is deeply satisfying. Other people have told me of my role in their conversion to the obsession that is Jiu Jitsu. That, more than anything else, is the best reward for chasing this dream.

Peace. Love. Jiu Jitsu.

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