All posts by Jamie


When I first started BJJ, there was only two blue belts in the whole state (that I was aware of). The access to coaches and technique was somewhat more limited that it is now and it took me around four years to get my blue belt.

That belt and every belt since, I have felt I was not ready for. Not ready to bear the load of the responsibility of representing that grade, not ready for the onslaught of lower belts looking to get a scalp, and not ready to defend against others already at that grade that I looked up to and respected as proficient and skilled fighters.

As I have said so many times in regard to BJJ, “You can and will be tested, every time you get on the mats”. There is nowhere to hide, not on past achievements, and not on the rank you wear.

A coach I once had, had a saying, “You don’t earn the belt, you become the belt”. This rings true to me. You are not being awarded an achievement certificate, as congratulations that you have past some test. You are being recognised as having climbed a mountain, and this is our vote of confidence that you are now ready to begin the journey of climbing the next mountain.

On the issue of tips (or degrees as they are called in the IBJJF Grading System). The difference between a white belt and a four stripe white belt is magnitudes apart, whereas the difference in purple belts may not be so striking. I was thinking back to when I had my brown belt, and only ever remember having a single stripe on it, so I went and dug it out, and found that it had two. This didn’t stop me progressing to black belt (incidentally that took about three and a half years from brown). Don’t be too worried about stripes as you progress through the belts, as all too soon you will have that vote that you are ready for your next mountain.

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Quantify Me

If you want to track your overall health and performance, and in particular avoid over-training, what should you measure? What device should you buy to give you insight into when you should push harder, and when you should really just rest up.

Over the years I have tried tracking a number of metrics. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a popular metric, that is supposed to give you a good overall picture of your readiness to train. I have also tracked CNS score, reaction times, resting heart rate, weight, sleep quantity and quality.

After tracking HRV with a dedicated OmegaWave device, and other heart rate monitors such as the Polar H7 in conjunction with various apps, I am yet to be convinced the results are consistent with my ability to perform.

I think one of the  worst metrics is weight. If you are competing in a sport that you must fit into a weigh category, then it is obviously important, but as to your general health lighter is not always better.  It is easily affected by hydration levels and glycogen depletion.

I have been between 73 and 90 odd kilograms. When I was at 73 kilograms, I was thrashing my body with long arduous training sessions in excess of two hours, and restricting my calorie intake significantly. This lead to an extended period of 12 to 18 months to recovery from the over-trained state I had put myself in. This morning I’m 77.3 kilograms after six weeks of high fat, low carb diet with no calorie restriction and trying to keep additional training outside of Jiu-jitsu to high intensity, low duration to minimise the amount of recovery needed.

The two metrics that I see reflect the progress of my training are reaction times, and resting heart rate. As my Jiu-jitsu volume and intensity increases in preparation for competition, I see my reaction times generally trend downward. When you feel faster, it’s because you are faster.

For me, resting heart rate is the key metric that shows me the state of my recovery. When it starts going up, I start backing off. When it stays low, I know I’m good to keep pushing. I try to maintain the integrity of the measurement, by using an accurate measurement device, and having a consistent environment to take the measurement.