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Zack's Blog #001

So I finally achieved it, a goal I have been working on for over a year now and I got to say it feels good. I was given my purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, since I was given the belt I have done a lot of reflecting and thinking. The reflecting I did took me for a trip down memory lane and although there have been some rough patches it has been one hell of a ride. you see I'm really lucky because I feel I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be at this moment of time, it's like the cogs of time lined up in the exact sequence to land me in such a great club full of great people who I get the privilege to call me friends. It's kind of strange I'm twenty-two and very few of my friends are my own age. Jiu-jitsu has this great ability to bring people of different ages, cultures and genders together in one quaint learning experience. kind of ironic that the practice of learning how to destroy each other actually brings people together which is a magic that only happens with sweat and laughter on the mats. How my journey has played out is something that only Hollywood screenwriters could have predicted, no more then four years ago I weighed in at one hundred and twenty-five kilograms, I used to drink a lot and smoked even more than I drunk, I didn't feel complete as a human and it showed. So after many crash diets of starting on Monday and giving up by Tuesday, I found the inspiration to stick to one after listen to the Joe Rogan experience podcast after downloading it on a whim, he was a commentator of the UFC which was a sport that always interested me being a lifelong fan of martial arts. The way he talked about Martial arts and Jiu-jitsu, in particular, it intrigued me and I knew it would be easier to give it a go once I lost the weight. Now this is a preconception i don't want anyone to fall in that they need to lose weight or get fit to try Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing or any other sport you want to give a go because the only way you can fit for a sport is by doing it and no amount of time on a stair trainer is going to get you ready for half an hour of rolling Jiu jitsu, most things in life are going to be hard before they get easier and that one of the lessons jiu-jitsu teaches. So I lost around thirty kilos and decided once I got my licence I would try this strange new art Joe Rogan praised so much.


now, this is where the stars line up because of a month before I was due to get my licence a friend on facebook like a paged for a new MMA gym that was opening up in my area a week after I got my licence. It seemed too good to be true but this time it wasn't, after three and a bit year of the gym opening that series of events feels like having the winning lottery ticket and then getting a boat load of cash put into your bank account which seems like a fairytale until it happens to you. A week after getting my licence I decided to walk through the door of Gemina mixed martial arts and it wasn't much then but a few zig zag mats, concrete walls, a groovy purple belt intructor( Aaron Cadd) and a blue belt(Adam Ferreira) who decided to come and help his mate out opening a club. I had never been so helpless and had so much fun in my life and from the first class, I knew there was power to this martial art that rivalled any other I had tried before, and I have done a couple. I signed up the next day and immediately became obsessed, catching the Jiu Jitsu bug as many call it. The next few months I trained in every class could and even felt bad for the days I missed due to a broken down body or other commitments like a fifteen-year-old longing over a high school crush. The club began to grow quickly with a new world class black belt instructor ( Jo Masiello) and higher belts coming from other clubs. with such a high level coming to the club I started to make some progress with my ability. I progressed fast as I was a bit of a natural and have an unbreakable work ethic, the latter I developed through jiu-jitsu as there's only so many times you can get tapped until you realise maybe I can be putting more into this to get good at it. That's the powerful thing about being tapped it shows who you are, some people tap and throw away the gi as their self-image is too fragile to sustain a lifestyle where losing is the only way to grow. real mat savages use the tap as a test of their jiu-jitsu armour finding the little chinks in their armour to fix and to grow or new attacks in which to dominate an opponent or life in general, creating a greater human in mind and spirit. It's hard to get frustrated easily with life or work when you have to worry about how you're going to protect your neck from a nasty Ezekial choke, most walk into a class with a mind like the rocky rapid's then walk out with a calm stillness of a great lake. It's meditations through the most violent of means the tames the wild soul better than busting a nut on a shower wall.


I grew in skill quickly and got my blue belt within ten months and that made my passion burn wild. But as any blue belt will tell you with a higher rank comes greater doubt which will push some to quit. Thanks to great guidance by superior coaches I was told that it's normal. It is felt by any belt rank and it's not just part of Jiu-jitsu but a part of life. This shits like a roller coaster some weeks you'll be running through everyone on the mats and achieving all your goals in life, then there are some weeks where you'll have a throat that feels like you've been smoking for thirty years and a pint of cookies and cream ice cream is your best friend. you just have to keep moving forward when you're stuck in a valley because if you stop you will never get to experience another a peak and they're what makes life worth living.


My biggest valley I experienced with my blue belt came with not being destroyed by my buddies on the mats but through injury. I had a passion for competing as I wanted to prove I was good and I see competition as the best way of improving your Jiu Jitsu in leaps and bounds. I wanted to be just like the people I saw on Jiu-jitsu pages like Cao Terra, Kit Dale, Andre Galvoa and much more and with my goals set I began to over train thinking I had to do more then everybody else was prepared to do. My mind was up for the challenge but even a twenty-one-year-old body was not. I remember I was rolling with a solid white belt trying to stop him from passing my guard and I heard a pop, I felt a sharp pain like someone stuck a knife into my shoulder and my arm went dead for about thirty seconds. I didn't think much of it at the time and sat out the rest of the class, the next morning my shoulder was a little stiff so decided I would just take a couple of days off and see how it goes. A couple of days later it was starting to feel good so I dove back into training, the next training session I went for a sloppy double leg and my shoulder popped out then popped right back in, it was then I knew I had done some damage. so being the young, arrogant know it all I can be sometimes if unchecked, I did a quick google search and decided the best course of action was to self-rehab it. Six weeks later after giving it a rest and doing a very idiotic weight program to help my shoulder, I went back out onto the mats. I felt good until half way through a roll, I went to simply put my hand back to brace my own weight not even in a scramble and my shoulder popped out again and this time it didn't pop back in for a couple of very painful minettes. The next day after some good advice from my coaches and fellow mat savages I went the physio. He told me I had torn my labrum and stretched all my ligament and would be at least three months before I could do any type of high paced sport again, he also told me I should quit Jiu Jitsu as it will probably pop out agian. I thought about quitting for about ten minutes and decided it just wasn't going to happen. I decided I was going to do everything possible short of tapping my arm to the side of my body to keep rolling. after about six months I was back on the mats again, thanks to a good physio, a few major tweaks to my game and the fact that I kept thinking about jiu Jitsu I didn't loose much ability and what I had lost a regained quickly. A lesson to everyone who's out on a injury is that even though you can't still learn through the movement of the game you can still learn by watching and listening, I would still show up to classes sit on the side's with a pad and pen and also began helping younger white belts where I could help them.


so this week I'm on another peak with getting my purple belt which was my biggest goal after my injury and this is the best one so far. to be honest, I do feel a little different like I have a greater responsibility to myself and to others in my club to be a good role model and to teach them to get better, also to have more fun with it. Jiu-Jitsu is a lot like life it's about as serious as you let it be and laughing is a lot cleaner then crying and it's hard to learn with a muddled mind. Even though I'm on a peak now I know there's another valley coming somewhere on the journey but I'm thankful jiu-jitsu has given me the strength and taught me the lesson to be able to get through the hard times so I can keep enjoying the good. so right now I am thankful to have such great training partners, coaches and a gym I can honestly call a home. I hope everybody enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it and feel free to leave any criticism and compliments in the comments I'm sure I'll read the compliments and just remember to enjoy it. osssss. peace out

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