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Jiu jitsu, man,

It’s more than what it first appears to be. To the untrained eye that sees grown men lying on each other for minutes at a time in sexually suggestive positions wearing karate kid clobber, it looks like a homoerotic toe tickling borefest. But to anyone who’s spent at least a good couple of hours on the mat the appeal soon worms it’s way into your brain, when you start realising actually just how defenseless you are, and just how unkind all those years of Bujinkan Budo ninjutsu training have been when a 100kg one stripe white belt negates your kendo Nagasaki death touch, and proceeds to sit on and throttle choke you like Homer Simpson for 5 minutes.

This begins to trigger something in your brain,
The reality begins to set in.
“I need to get good at this, otherwise there’s a very real possibility that if shit goes down in real life I’m not gonna be able to defend myself or my loved onesies as well as I thought”.
It’s at this point that one of two things happen, people either think nah mate this isn’t for me and go back to what is in their comfort zone, (this could be playing PlayStation, painting pictures or lifting weights, crossfit or some other ‘training’ that on it’s own serves no purpose beyond social media posts of you looking “jacked”), or you could hopefully go the other way get the BJJ bug and open yourself up to the damning fact that you’ve got an unlimited amount of learning to be done. That in my opinion is the beauty of jiu jitsu, it is limitless, it cannot be completed, cannot be cheated. The ceiling is as high a bar as you make it and jiu jitsu shows you flaws in yourself and your psyche that no other teacher sensei or Buddha can, it simultaneously builds and tests your physical and mental strength, constantly making you question yourself in all areas of your life using and applying the knowledge you learn to shape yourself into the best person you can be, which could be something as simple as tying your belt properly so it doesn’t resemble a balloon animal, being able to breathe under pressure, or learning to dissect problems using logic and principles with severe consequences on the line.

From a personal perspective the hardest lesson jiu jitsu has given me so far in the few years I’ve been grappling is that to become the person I want to be I had to change my whole life and rearrange my priorities, and that in turn meant I had to take myself back to square one again. I found I was using jiu jitsu as an escape from my problems not a tool to solve them, my problems were pushed to the background because I was constantly training when I wasn’t working, my bjj was growing but as a person I was ignoring my responsibilities, which eventually brought me to a crossroads in my life and the realisation that big changes where needed.

Theses changes though positive in nature had a negative effect on my training, I went from being the person who was in the gym every morning and night without fail. To the person who trained three times a week and eventually the odd day or so here or there.

When my training habits changed I stopped supplementing and my eating habits changed also which in turn led to little injuries which stopped me training even more, I watched my ego take a hit as I saw friends being promoted who started training way after me clearing up at competitions when I didn’t have a win to my name. I started to believe I wasn’t good enough, is this even for me?

I had no confidence and simple habits I used to do effortlessly ate me up inside, I felt useless. But with hard work things slowly got better. I had moved to a new home so I relocated to a new gym to maximise my training time when I was fit enough to get back to drilling which was very recently.

My goal is to get to a level in myself where I feel mentally and physically prepared to compete again, I’m under no illusion of the challenge with many hours of hard mat time standing between me and that competition mat again and tomorrow I’ve got my toughest test in ages. A huge open mat in Manchester where up to 75 top grapplers from the north west are going to try and end my life.

Oh well, let’s have it.

In a bit


“Anthony is a part time grappler, part time writer and blogger, he trains once a year and loves to roll with fatties. Catch his writing over @toebloggs and @theshamanicscouser (instagram)”

picture of author Anthony Johnston

Anthony Johnston

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