Dec 092011

Purple BeltIt’s hard to believe that I’ve been rolling around on the floor with my friends like a bunch of kids for five years now. I started off knowing nothing and now, well, I guess I’ve picked up a few things, but am amazed by how much I don’t know.

I went back to my 1 year anniversary post, where I posted six things I’d learned over the course of that year. I remember distinctly thinking that I would go back and read the post and laugh at how naive I was. While there’s definitely some of that, I’m happy that the things I posted are things I still believe to be true. That’s particularly true for washing your gi. You know who you are, Stinky.

Over the last year in particular, some different things have become more important to me and my training. What follows are some general thoughts. They’re a little all over the board, but it’s been a long year. So, at the risk of once again creating an awkward source of future embarrassment, here goes:

1: Keep it fun.
I blog because I enjoy it. I train in BJJ because I enjoy it. It’s not work. Work is something I do because I have to. Jiu Jitsu is something I do because I want to. And for a while, it became work, and as a result, I pretty much stopped doing it. I still loved Jiu Jitsu, but I didn’t love training anymore. If that makes sense. So, remember. It’s fun. It’s not work. And do whatever you need to do to keep it fun. I didn’t realize how true this was for me until I started training regularly again a few months ago.

For me, that has a lot to do with the next point.

2: Don’t take yourself too seriously
I began to worry. I got promoted to purple belt and for a short time I was overwhelmed by how heavy it felt to me. I’m humbled by guys like Bing, Jeff, Josh, Ethan and countless others, with whom I train. They study technique. They are absorbing strategy. They pick up on nuance that, frankly, I don’t see. It’s like a dog whistle, where they can hear stuff I don’t. But what I realize now is that it’s all good. We’re all on a different path.

3: It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Training regularly is more important than anything else. I’ve often regretted choosing to skip a class, but I’ve never regretted going to class. When I’m tired or worn out, and I’m thinking about staying home I try to remember this.

4: Technique DVDs are worthless to me
I get 1000 times more from watching competition footage than I do from technique videos and DVDs. This might just be me, but I can drink 5 red bulls back to back, put in a technique DVD and struggle to stay awake after 10 minutes. I can’t do it. But I can watch hours of competition footage and it helps me to see how the elite athletes in our sport roll. So, anyone looking to… you know… buy me something. Ahem. Anyway.

5: Leave the ego at the door
Do we ever really learn this? On an academic level, this gets tossed around quite a bit. Of course, leave the ego at the door. But do we ever really do this? I think we do… mostly, but it’s easy to slip. This video is hilarious and articulates what I’m trying to say very well:

 Posted by at 8:00 pm

  2 Responses to “5 Year Anniversary – What I’ve Learned”

Comments (2)

    Thanks, man, I needed this list. I’m 49 with no real significant former training, and I’m seven classes in to a BJJ journey that I hope will last the rest of my (mobile) life. To say I’m hooked is an understatement. But last class I partially tore my MCL attempting a scissor sweep. Dumb. Tried to muscle it because my partner was 220 lbs (I’m 160). I was pretty depressed and deflated. Luckily, it won’t need surgery, but at my age, it’ll take awhile to heal. This post has helped me commit to continuing class, even just to watch, as I heal. Leaving my ego at the door will be essential (that plus a really stiff kneebrace). Anyway, thank you again for the encouragement. BTW, I’m blogging about my training as well, at
    Check it out if you like. Cheers, and happy training!


      Blake, thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Starting BJJ at 49 is going to present some challenges, but if it’s something you love to do, you’ll find a way.

      Ed O’Neil is my inspiration. If Al Bundy can earn a black belt in BJJ, so can I!

      I’ll definitely check out your blog.


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