Patience. Breathe. Tap.
The three most common things I've been saying in my head over the last 6 months as a BJJ student. I started my quest for a black belt in July, and I've quickly become addicted to my new favourite sport. Injuries to my shoulder have slowed my progress (I have chronic dislocations, not much I can do about it) but outside of that I love every aspect of being a BJJ player.
A lot of whitebelts are really concerned with subbing people right away, and base their progress off of how many stripes they have, or how many people they can beat during a roll. I've always thought that was preposterous. I've made it my goal to focus on my positioning, getting a solid base, and learning every defense imaginable from positions and submissions. I can count the number of people I've subbed during rolls on one hand, but when it came time for competition (after 3 months of training) I gave a guy who has 15 months more experience than me a tough match. Even though that match was only 3 months ago, I look back at the tape and notice places where I made mistakes (i.e. getting out of people's half guards) which is a sign that I'm mentally progressing - the most important aspect of BJJ.
As I sit here reflecting on the last 6 months of my life, I only regret that I hadn't started sooner. I envy the 13-15 year olds who train with the adults because I know they are going to be beast's by the time they are my age (24). For anyone who’s been toying with the idea of training, but has made an excuse not to take the free class offered by every academy as a try out....GO NOW. Seriously. You will not regret it. Aside from the physical benefits (My cardio is awesome, I haven't had a 6 pack since university....until BJJ came along, etc) the mental aspects of BJJ is the cherry on top. The gentle art forces you to be calm in very stressful situations, and at least for me, that has translated into me being able to keep a clear head in any stressful situation - on the mat or off it.
Be forewarned, there are cons to taking up BJJ. Here is my list:
1) It is more addictive than crack. You will become addicted after the third class; there is no getting around that fact.
2) You will spend your day at your office browsing old grappling matches and reading obscure forum posts just because it's grappling related.
3) You will constantly be going for positions on your significant other.
4) Your holiday/birthday/whatever gift list will comprise entirely for GI's from now on.
I've been told that the 6 month mark is a big accomplishment for a whitebelt. It shows they have dedication. I always get confused when I hear that, because I have no idea how anyone could ever quit something as amazing as BJJ.
Until next time...keep shrimping.