A few nights ago I had a great post-BJJ catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen at the gym for a while.

The conversation related specifically to how he felt about himself in relation to his progression with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his dream of becoming a black belt, which would eventually lead to opening his own gym, allowing him to make a living from the Gentle Art.

I quickly discovered that we were both on the same frustrating path.

Whereas everybody else in class seemed to be excelling at an exponential rate, improving with an alarming rate, we both felt that we had stalled. Somewhere along the line we had become stagnant. Our game became predictable, expected, and we became lost within the roll, rather than experiencing and learning from it.

For him, the relatively new blue belt, and myself, a single stripe blue belt for almost a full year, there was a harsh realisation.

We’d hit a plateau.

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What always surprises me from the lessons I learn on the mats is how applicable they are to my other interests and ambitions.

Not for the first time, a lesson learned through BJJ can easily relate back to my writing journey.

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Reject The Status Quo

The status quo is a dangerous and easy thing to become accustomed to. It allows for complacency and laziness; an over familiarity with the status quo achieves nothing more than personal and creative stagnation. You may look at what is happening in your life and wonder, “Where is my progress?”, “Where is my momentum?”

I know I have.

It may be lacking because of an subconcious acceptance of the status quo.

I’ve been begrudgingly learning this lesson over the past few weeks, with unwanted frustration growing during my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. Recently I’ve been stuck in a rut, with people able to shut down or counter my game based on my, now, relative predictability. What I used to do worked every time. Not so much anymore.

So what happened? What’s happened within the given status quo, and could it actually be a good thing?

What can my BJJ training teach me about this new personal obstruction, and how, exactly, does it tie into my writing? What life lesson is there to glean from this?

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Pale-Oh My Goodness, Shucky Ducky, Quack, Quack.

I usually try and keep dietary things to myself, not wanting to be one of ‘those’ people.

You know, ‘those’ people.

The people that try something new and don’t shut up about it, no matter what until either you, or someone else, politely asks…

Either that or they give up on whatever they are endlessly braying about and, not wanting to draw attention to that fact, they go about as though they never mentioned anything about it in the first place.

Yeah, those people.

SO, not wanting to be one of those people has led me to some interesting experiments when it comes to dieting. I try things, find what I like, what I don’t like, and adapt as needed in order to cut weight whilst, hopefully, still having enough energy for my day to day existence, let alone for BJJ training.

Last night marked the first non paleo meal that I had in over a month+, and I felt terrible for it.

Oh yeah, I did paleo for well over a month. And it was awesome.

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Don’t Train Harder, Train Smarter.

The statement “Don’t train harder, train smarter” has a lot of poignancy to me in relation to my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training, and thanks to BJJ I’ve been able to learn how to apply lessons learnt on the mat to other, relevant areas of my life.

Last night’s training session is a great example of that. I was exhausted, hungry and it showed in how I moved and reacted on the mats. It forced me to think about what I was doing, it made me attempt to roll smarter, rather than harder, relying on strength as some people are prone to do. It made me think, and in my fatigued state it allowed me an opportunity to play with bad positions that I may not have found myself in had I been more alert or more physically able. It let me keep it playful as I rolled with a few white belts (who were by no means to be taken lightly) and it brought me into some interesting danger positions, one of which I tried to slowly figure a way out of that was ultimately unsuccessful, leading to me tapping. Which doesn’t matter, as it shouldn’t. Firstly the guy who got me is a great training partner who is truly dedicated to BJJ; he’s there every day, mostly having trained in the morning and then coming back to the night time class. His schedule, and youth, allow him to dedicate the time most others wish they could, and it shows in his progress as he evolves in leaps and bounds.

There’s no shame in tapping, especially if it’s in a position you recognise as dangerous, and then attempt to play with. It could have gone great and I would have found a unique escape, or it could have gone the other way, where my relaxed, controlled, attempts to figure a way out didn’t bear any fruit.

But how does this relate to writing, exactly? Let me explain my madness.

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What The Frak?! Or: What a Way to End 2014.

You know what sucks? Being sick for the tail end of the year.

Also, forgetting any modicum of self control, over eating, and putting on weight for needless reasons.

Yeah, that.

Last year, Thea was laid out sick whilst I was out for the New Year’s festivities; this year saw the both of us sick on the couch, enjoying the BBC’s footage of the NY’s celebration, occurring about 30 minutes away from us, tucked in between our marathon session of Battlestar Galactica.

This cold has frak’d me up, no doubt.

But first, some back story: I suffer from a heel condition that sees it becoming very red, inflamed and painful to any sort of pressure. At all. Walking around is torturous, and the slightest pressure would have me on the ground, writhing in pain and tapping out to life in general.

This decided to flare up a  few weeks ago, taking me out of commission from working out and my regularly scheduled BJJ routine. It’s been said before, but it’s undeniable: it’s way too easy to break good habit.

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TUFF Invitational (6/12/14)


This past Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the first ever TUFF Invitational tournament, courtesy of two free tickets I won via Jiu Jitsu Style (the BJJ magazine for the Gentlemanly Connoisseur of the Gentle Art).

I’m not particularly blessed with the graceful touch of Lady Luck, as the shamefully high amount of ripped up lottery tickets I’ve thrown away over the years can attest to, but the Jiu Jitsu Gods were smiling upon me when my name was drawn, and on Thursday I received an e-mail from BJJ Style informing me that I had won the opportunity to witness the first of what could be many.

For those unfamiliar, here’s the lazy comparison point: the TUFF Invitational is the UK’s attempt at the USA’s Metamoris.

20 minute rounds, no points, submission only, super fights, all taking place on an impossibly perfect white mat canvas. The only thing missing was the continuous drumming that has become a staple that accompanies all Metamoris fights – though I honestly haven’t decided whether that’s actually a pro or con just yet.

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BJJ Lifestyle vs BJJ Life.

Ever since I was promoted to blue belt a few months ago there’s been a question a few people have been asking me recently, and it’s one that has been playing on my mind for a little while now: when are you competing?

Mike “The Nightmare” Neun

I’ve only ever participated in a competition once, an inter club no less, after training in BJJ for approximately 3 months. Needless to say, I got totally owned. It didn’t help that I was, at the time, heavy enough to be competing in a light heavyweight division – with opponents such as notable MMA competitor Mike “The Nightmare” Neun. Let’s just say it didn’t go my way.

Since then I have grown. Not just on the mats, but as a person, and all thanks to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I am not disillusioned about my current position: I have, somehow, managed to become a blue belt, but I still have a long, long way to go.

I do not feel that I am as good as my teammates suggest, but, on that same note, I am perhaps not as bad as I believe myself to be. Either way, there is so much opportunity for personal growth through this sport, and I can’t wait to continue learning as much as I can.

The question then naturally segues to ‘why’? If you don’t intend to compete, why are you training at all? If you don’t want the medals and the accolades, why bother?

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