Friday, November 26, 2010

The Start, Part 1.

Hey all. Welcome to my blog. I’m hoping I enjoy doing this and stick with it. We’ll see though. I’m fairly well occupied with other things already...

I’ve got Jits on the brain pretty much around the clock. It’s a problem, to be honest. It’s affected everything I do. In the 3.5 years I’ve been doing it, it’s touched all aspects of my life.

I know; “Cool Story Bro.”

I reckon the best place to start this, is with my start in BJJ.

I had in my mind, since high school, a notion of what it was to be tough. I lifted weights an awful lot, and that was about it. I actually started out high school about as humanly athletic as your typical Egg-laying Hen. It hadn’t yet, and I think a lot of people are still this way, occurred to me that toughness might be more than strength.

I’d recently had a bit of a realization about how not-very-tough-at-all I was when I got into a fight at a party. I lost. Spectacularly. I didn’t really do anything, other than shove some guy and get a black eye for it. Jesus was I embarrassed and ashamed. I was with my best friend at the time, your archetypal man’s man. He’d been scraping since he was born. I remember driving home in his beat up Sunbird, me with a bag of ice on my face, and he kept saying “All these muscles, and you can’t even throw a punch.”

Terrible story. In hindsight, this is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. If I ever see the guy who delivered the black eye again (I vaguely remember him) I don’t know if I’d shoot for the double or hug the bastard.

At the time, I was living in Hamilton. I’d seen some TV shows about Krav Maga... If you’re not familiar, It’s the Israeli military martial art. I did this for about 8 months. Despite the fact that I mention this with a little embarrassment these days, it did do a number of things for me. I got into better shape from it (I dropped 26 pounds or so,) developed an ability to push myself physically, learned to throw a decent roundhouse kick, and rather miraculously was introduced to BJJ.

Krav isn’t something I’d recommend these days. It has some serious methodology faults that make it , even more so than other arts, an impractical, fruitless venture. Krav is completely Piss and Vinegar based. It’s all Martial, no Art. Very un-technical. If I could sum up my diatribe, I’d just say that I spent an awful lot of time practising the fine art of kicking people in the junk. Does this require refinement? I’m not so sure. Beyond testicle soccer, the art is predicated on going ape on someone. It was never explained to me what on earth I was going to do if my would be attacker wore a cup, or if they were bigger than me. I really don’t think this had been considered.

One Saturday (March 10, 2007, in fact) there was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu seminar at this school. I didn’t have the foggiest notion of what that was, but I signed up. The guy teaching sounded well accomplished.

The day came and I introduced myself to a guy who didn’t look intimidating at all. He was in fact remarkably nice and friendly. His name was PJ. (PJ has since started his own Club: Pura BJJ

That day, PJ showed me a few moves I had never seen before. Things that had never honestly occurred to me to be possible, let alone practical. PJ showed some stuff that I found later was actually considered to be rather advanced techniques. I can’t recall all of them, but the peruvian necktie was one of them.

I still consider myself very fortunate that he took this approach. I was all at once marvelling with the intricacies of the sport, the sense of innovation, and the athleticism required for sparring. What more was there to this?

The Krav School I was at had PJ (and a few friends of his) come in to teach 2 days a week. I fell in love with the sport. I got my hands on a cheap gi pretty quick. I began to look forward to BJJ and rather disdainfully on the Krav. I was still doing Krav at the time, but it had become less and less stimulating for me.

Gradually, I abandoned Krav altogether. PJ had told me that he taught at another Krav School, over in Oakville another two days a week. I was now able to get in four days a week. Things were quite good. I bought a second Gi, A Keiko, so that I’d be able to show up in a non-stinky/wet gi.

Things were looking up. Jiu Jitsu had already become a force in my life. It had encouraged me to change other things in my life. I was actively pursuing effective eating and weight training for bjj, and had gained enough confidence to sign up for school.

How did you become involved in BJJ?

The history lesson will continue in Part 2.



  1. Heh - fortunately with blogs, the “Cool Story Bro” meme doesn't really apply: no limit to how verbose you can be. After all, I can happily write ridiculously long posts like this and this. ;)

    There are few things I enjoy more than BJJ histories: as it is still such a young sport on an international level, even going back a few years is interesting (like the way you mention your experience with BJJ grew out of a Krav Maga school). I look forward to part 2!

    Speaking personally, I got into BJJ slowly. I did a striking style at university back in 1999, then in 2002 during my Masters degree, I started reading internet forums. That led me to discover something called the UFC, after which I got gradually more intrigued by MMA, eventually trying it myself a year or two later. Judo was up next, though unfortunately I got injured in my third class during 2005, finally getting down to my first session at the Roger Gracie Academy in 2006.

    "Cool story bro" version of that here. ;p

  2. Ha. Yeah. I'm not so good with the memes. I had understood "CSB" to be a way of noting someones unlikely and overly emotional response to something.
    It's always interesting to hear how people got into BJJ. I think you are familiar with Ashleys Story. I was pleasantly surprised when she got into it. I was always dragging the poor girl to Tournaments.

    I've read your history post. Very cool, and verbose indeed. The spreadsheets are intense! I hear Kris Moriarty (sp?) keeps spreadsheets of all his tournaments. That's something I'd like to see.

  3. Wow, that would be cool: I guess not just win/lose, but which submissions/positions etc? Would make for a very interesting study, especially if Moriarty goes into lots of detail. Just have to coax him onto Google Docs... ;p

  4. Moriarty made mention of this on the Fight Works Podcast. It was a really good episode, aside from spreadsheet talk.