Category Archives: Jiu-Jitsu

The apprentiship to Black

Well said mate. I really see the belts to black as markers in your apprentiship. Finishing them signifies competence and then allows you then the right to push on an attain mastery.  I felt so comfortable in my other belts after a year or so. You know, when that belt looses its stiffness, wraps itself around your waist comfortably before training.

Man, this black just doesn’t play by them rules. What black has allowed me to do is realise how much I don’t know. I think that it is the real start of the journey once you have the realisation just how big the mountain is, like climbing through the clouds to see the real peak!! And as far as being tested, that is every second of every roll. And that is gold.


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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Mallet Finger

You mean like this 🙂 dislocation of right little finger from a scramble that resulted in mallet finger, self re-location, continued to roll and no follow up treatment… Long term result… arthritic, painful, decreased ROM and strength… I now manage to compensate with other 3 fingers and god bless that opposable thumb 🙂


Red wine ramblings…

So, as I sit here sipping on a glass of red, nursing my sore, arthritic knuckles from a hard day’s training, I have to wonder, what makes any Barossa Shiraz so awesome?….. The producer, the geography, the climate, the soil… ahhh, that’s right, the Terroir!!!!

And how does this relate to Jiu Jitsu? Well, I’m not sure…. but then when it comes to BJJ, there is a lot I’m not sure about… for instance, what would make sane, intelligent people step onto a mat and choke each other for fun.  What possesses us, day after day, to commit to the acid test that is an open mat, where everyday your ego is checked, when, in every session you can and will be tested. Why, when off injured, you compromise your recovery to just ‘play’. The enjoyment as 2 grown men stand, drenched in sweat, bruised and sometimes bloodied, after sparring for 10 minutes, face each other and smile a genuine smile and then… hug! What about the frustration that comes with trying to explain this martial art, sport, hobby, past time, religion, obsession, life style, family, to someone who doesn’t train. It truly is a conundrum.

People talk about it being an emotional roller coaster, the highs, the lows and everything in between. But in the 15 or so years that I have been training in BJJ, it has never got any easier. In so many ways it gets harder, especially once you get that coveted black belt strapped around your waist… Thanks for that Mr. Robert Drysdale!

Harder in what way? Well, dealing with the responsibility that comes with the rank is a huge one for me. As a person of integrity, I truly want to represent the honour that has been bestowed upon me and on a daily basis I strive to live up to my belt, even having had it for about 4 years…

Another is continuing to try and improve my game, an area I have struggled with for the last year or so, but that will come again… For me, as cliched as it sounds, this is a lifelong pursuit, so a year of marking time is a drop in the bucket. So I won’t let myself get too frustrated, I will deal with my injuries, regain my focus and continue forward…

Then there is the responsibility for students, furthering their education, assessing methods and techniques, adjusting what you do and teach, motivating, leading, inspiring, consoling, learning, listening, reflecting… trying not to let the bad days show, maintaining the daily running of the school… etc, etc…

Anyway, I digress, this blog is about the journey. I am blessed with the people I have around me, the friends that teach, test and mould me, the gym that is my church, and BJJ that is my religion.

As we progress with it, I am going to try and relate what I have learnt, mistakes I have made as well as progression, positives and negatives, ups and downs. In this I hope to impart some knowledge, stimulate some thought and modify some concepts…

So lets try and figure out the essence of why we do this, lets talk about what works and what doesn’t and why, let us observe and report on training methodology (both conventional and un-orthodox), lets throw in health, fitness, performance, nutrition and technique, lets try and work out the terroir that makes Jiu-jits so special to us all….







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.