Tag Archives: Competition

In Good Company.

On Sunday, the 18th of November I was promoted to brown belt. This might get soppy. Bear in mind I can remember the shock, followed by being completely enamoured with being promoted to blue belt. It seemed so alien to me at the time, and such a privilege. I didn’t ever really think about the possibility of becoming a blue belt, so it goes without saying that I didn’t ever see myself surpassing that. When I started all this, there really wasn’t BJJ in Dundee. Sure there were a few places doing NoGi grappling, but let’s for a moment make the distinction and suggest that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is in the Gi. That’s what people think of in their mind’s eye when someone says BJJ. Pyjama fighting, innit.

Way back when (eight years ago) – Billy, Grant and myself grabbed the bull by the dick and started trying to familiarise ourselves with the gi (Billy had already dabbled, he was a seasoned blue belt). In its infancy, I’m not even sure whether the aim was actually to build something or not, but that became a byproduct of what we were doing. For months we trained on a Sunday when the gym was free, and we’d dabble at open mats too. The love for the Gi was just there for us, and I’m not really sure why. Maybe it just clicked. We built a relationship with David ‘Speedy’ Elliot our now head coach, we visited him and he visited us regularly – helping us grow our repotoire of techniques. Fast forward a little bit, and there’s now multiple classes in Dundee and the surrounding area hosted by us Origin Jiu-Jitsu coaches. Somehow, we did that. Our influence has made its stamp, that’s pretty weird to think of.

Credit where credit is due – I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this if it wasn’t for Dundee Mixed Martial Arts welcoming me into their little club.
The grappling scene around this neck of the woods is also now healthier than it’s ever been. There’s Judo, Sambo, Freestyle Wrestling, NoGi, Catch & to top it all off Gracie Barra also run some classes in Dundee. This place is flourishing!
If you dig grappling, Dundee’s a pretty fucking decent place to be now with differing views and schools of thought on how to approach all of this limb destruction. Spread your wings a little further, and the world’s your lobster with places like Fair City Jiu-Jitsu, Gracie Barra Fife, Jax MMA,  and Results Gym to name a few. That’s not even going far from Dundee. Scotland as a whole now has reclaimed its title as a land of the savages, but we no longer weild Claymores. It’s all double legs and kimura traps now.

Let’s get back on track before I put you to sleep with words instead of chokes.
On Sunday, Speedy hosted another interclub. He does this twice a year. The bi-annual interclub extravaganza.
The turnout was immense, the matches on the day were fun, technical and great to watch and be a part of. The level at each belt division is going through the bloody roof, because of the hard work that all the coaches are putting into their individual teams. A white belt when I started compared to now, is a very different thing. It’s great for us all to come together, on one big day (well two) to celebrate how far we’ve come. As a coach, that’s pretty god damn cool to see how my guys stack up against their guys in a non-threatening environment. Before and after your own matches, you can help coach friends, drill/spar or just hang out and enjoy the day. It’s ace.

The day has become a bit of blur. One minute myself and my chauffeur Danny are arriving in Newcastle, next minute we’re fighting in our retrospective categories (I was really impressed with Danny on the day), and then I’m standing in line alongside Grant and a fuckload of Origin black belts as promotions are being handed out to each team – one by one. It was immense to see some of the guys that I work with on a weekly basis get promoted. Whether that was stripes, or belts.
The big one for me though, was seeing my main man Tony getting his shiny new purple belt. It came as a complete surprise to him, because Grant and I had finished our promotions and Speedy gave him the belt personally. He’s improved so much since getting his blue it’s frightening, and there isn’t a person in the club that doesn’t value him as a training partner. He’s just the best fucking dude you’re ever likely to meet.
Once the team promotions were handed out, Speedy asked that the coloured belts go back into line so that only the black belts were at the front of the room. This didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary at the time, but my team freaked out as Grant and I walked back into the group. It’s like they realised what was about to happen before we did.

Barely a minute removed from the lineup, Speedy mentioned that today was going to be a special day and he had a few more promotions to give out. The next people to be promoted would be joining the Jiu-Jitsu elite as he put it. That next big step. Speedy doesn’t give out promotions lightly. He promotes when he believes you’re ready, and not a moment before.
That’s helped me immensely whenever I’ve doubted whether I should be wearing the belt around my waist, or how well I’m doing – I take a moment and remember who promoted me, and the standard he holds people to. It’s a small comfort when you’re sliding down the side of a hill, into a deep dark valley of despair (or in Grant’s case, being pulled off of his feet by his daft dog Hugo!).
To Grant and I it seemed obvious what was coming; Billy and Mighele were getting their brown belts. They’re two of Darlington’s finest – absolute gentleman off the mats, and utterly terrifying to compete against on the mats.

Speedy mentioned that he was going to call out these next people together so that they could ALL be promoted at the same damn time.
Mighele. Billy. Barry. Grant. Fahad. What the fucking fuck.
As I walked up, I was fucking shitting myself. My team went mental seeing myself and Grant getting called up; just like Dom’s and Speedy’s teams did seeing their own guys called up too.
I can’t explain how nervous I was, but I had to hold focus so that I didn’t burst into tears like a wee bairn. Had I been promoted alone, I would have been fine, stoic and locked in on the moment – but this was different, I felt so privileged to have shared that little moment with those four people in particular, because of how much I admire them all as individuals. They’re great people. It felt rare and special – and it’s one that I’m going to remember for a long time because of what it means to me. I’m sentimental like that, for the cantankerous cunt that I am.
I’ve had belts before, but this was different. For a brief moment, five purple belts stood ahead of five black belts and we were welcomed to that next level. I’m in good company here, supported by friends and team members to be the best I can possibly be as a brown belt.

The reception I’ve received upon getting back to Dundee has been incredible.
My self-deprecating appraoch has likely clouded my judgement on whether I’m actually good at this stuff – but I certainly didn’t expect so many people to say how happy they were to see me get my brown belt, or how much I deserved it for the amount I train, time I put into helping people, and the techniques I use/show on a regular basis. It has been surreal, but highly appreciated.

Going forward, the aim is the same as it’s always been. I want to be better at Jiu-Jitsu today, than I was yesterday. I know that the people around me will help me achieve that goal.

Right, fuck off. x

Myself, Speedy on his tippy toes, Grant.

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Taking a Slice of the Action.

Hello again, you horrible fat slobs.

You’ll be pleased to know I haven’t died, yet. I’m still doing what I do, which is lead a fairly bleak existence working for the man, whilst trying to juggle some sort of family/social life and of course training as much Jiu-Jitsu as is possible.

I haven’t been yapping much on here of late, because I’ve been trying to write the same fucking thing for-fucking-ever and I got so frustrated with my inability to be truly diplomatic with it that I sacked it all off. Since then, the bug hasn’t been there. Fuck it. FUCK IT ALL.
Plus, I’ve reached one of those grubby grappling plateaus. I’m not getting better, I’m not getting worse. I have days where I’ll be caught a thousand times, then days where I’ll shut cunts down and flow between submissions like someone that actually knows what the fuck they’re doing.

Out with my own training, recently a ton of the DMMA guys threw themselves into competition, and they did great; earning some much needed experience, with a few picking up medals. This is brilliant, but more could be done to help them along their way.

As of next week, I’m going to run a small competition class on Wednesday evenings. Billy’s class will run as normal from 1830 – 2000, and my class will run from 2000-2100.
For a while now, Wednesdays have been a sparring class. So I figure bolting on another hour when people are nice and warm should be a good idea.
The aim is to cover positional sparring, shark tanks, tailored drills, etc so that the people that need the extra training are getting it in a controlled environment.
Drilling can be difficult without structure, and usually descends into rolling – my hope is after an hour and a half of rolling, the guys will be fairly compliant in doing what the fuck I tell them. Time will tell whether it’s a success or not, but the reception has been positive thus far.

The timetable is now looking mighty meaty for grappling at our little club and the satellite sites we run.

Monday – DMMA
Freestyle Wrestling with Euan Maddox 1800-2000.
BJJ Technique class with Billy Beckers 2000-2130.

Tuesday – DMMA
Open mat regularly runs from 1700-2000 with sparring taking centre stage.
Submission Grappling with Fenrir Thorvaldsen 2000-2130.

Tuesday – Evolved Training
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Euan Sloane 1830-2030.

Wednesday – DMMA
BJJ sparring with Billy Beckers 1830-2000
BJJ competition training with myself 2000-2100

Thursday – Wolseley Street Shed
BJJ sparring with Grant Cruickshank 1000-1100 (subject to announcement).

Friday – DMMA
Open mat regularly runs from 1700-1930 with sparring taking centre stage.
Submission Grappling with Fenrir Thorvaldsen 1930-2130.

Friday – Evolved Training
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Euan Sloane 1930-2130.

Saturday – DMMA
Open mat 1200-1600. Drill, spar or kill. The choice is yours.

Sunday – Wolseley Street Shed
BJJ kids with Grant Cruickshank 0930-1015.
BJJ class (technique/sparring) with Grant Cruickshank & myself.

Hopefully I haven’t missed anything, wouldn’t want to look a cunt now.
Right, toodles bitches. x

John Danaher: The New Yorker.

This is a fantastic piece, giving a slight insight into the Danaher Death Squad. Give it a read. and I’ll continue back to my waffling ways soon.

John Danaher, the Jujitsu Master Turning an Ancient Art Into a Modern Science.

Conquering Demons.

Hello again y’all.

If you’ve read this blog before, or have been following my ramblings for a while you’ll know that I have the occasional bout of competition anxiety. I consider myself lucky that my anxiety is entirely rational, as I know people that have bouts of anxiety that they just can’t control. A feeling of unrest over a seemingly random event. I don’t get that, thank Jebus. I can at least relate my bout to something in front of me at that very moment. I step onto the competitive mats and immediately fill my pampers with shit. Thinking the absolute the worst.
It takes me out of the moment, and can often affect my performance poorly. It’s not nerves or that, it’s a properly derailing experience when it happens. I just don’t deal well with the unknown in that moment. More competition experience is obviously required.

This comes from my lack of confidence as a grappler, and my knowledge of what a good grappler is. My brain will always compare me at my worst, to them at their best. It’s a losing battle, and one my mind regularly trips me up upon. I know you’re only meant to compare yourself to yourself, but when you know the people you’re up against; it’s very hard to do so. So I go all wobbly in the brain.

On Saturday the 22nd of April, I found myself down in Newcastle again for another of Speedy’s patented inter-club competitions. The Origin Team from the North East and beyond comes together in one spot to have a good laugh with one another, support one another and see how we fare in the throws of pyjama battle. It’s a great day out amongst family and friends, depending on how you view all of this Martial Arts stuff. I consider these people a family. That’s what Jiu-Jitsu or grappling is; I know that these people at least understand that part of me, and I understand that part of them. A shared passion for the art of breaking limbs, and choking one another. It’s rare people get on this well with their own family, so it’s a special feeling. Politics, music, tastes etc all go out of the window. We share a common ground, which happens to be covered by mats.

This time around, I made a considered effort to try and coach from the sidelines. It turns out I didn’t really need to, because Origin Tayside excelled themselves. The matches put on were competitive, fun and brilliant to watch with our team doing incredibly well. I’ve already told them how well they did, so I’m not going to give them the shout out they probably deserve. Fuck ’em. Fuck ’em all.
I will however mention how important these days are as a team. When you’re training day to day, you do not see the shift in a person’s game. Assuming the world is fair, and attributes are even, you’ll all move at the same pace, progressing at the very same speed. I’ve created a false positive there, to dumb down reality. We’re dealing with a game of variables here, but that aside you just don’t know whether Tom has improved over Dick, or whether Harry has improved at all because you see these cunts every single day. You catch them, they catch you, etc. On these rare inter-club days, you see how far they’ve come and get to appreciate the side of their game that you miss in class because you don’t have to focus on your own shit. You can simply focus on them doing what they do, against someone else trying to do what they do. It’s fucking crack-a-lack-ing, as Snoop D. O. double Gizzle would say.

Once the white and blue belts had done their thing, we took a breather from competition to focus on Andy Bell. He’s a blue belt that had a motorcycle accident leaving him paralysed from the chest down. Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone all had a roll with him, with their legs tied up and the agreement that they wouldn’t use their hips. This was incredible to watch. You got to see the grit and determination of Andy, who is still a super competitive grappler regardless of his paralysis; and you got to see how immediately ineffective brown and black belts are without their hips in play. Suddenly a blue belt who doesn’t view this form of grappling as foreign, is getting the upper hand. He knows how to move, because it’s an entirely natural movement for him. It was a constant back and forth battle and really interesting to watch, but it also served another very important purpose. The room was fed a healthy dose of perspective.

Speedy always starts these inter-clubs by reminding us that we’re all friends and family, so this isn’t a serious competition. Now, whilst that remains in the back of our minds, we’re still doing our best to put on a good show for those that are judging us. Matches rarely do, but they can get heated. It’s a difficult to balance on the day, I guess – but Andy put things into perspective for me at least, and many of the other purple belts who were there. We had the most relaxed and technical matches of the day (Billy and Ant’s match was an incredible watch, an absolute feast of Jiu-Jitsu technique). The purples should be better to watch because of their technical understanding of the game, but I think it was less to do with that and more to do with the weight we had lifted before we were matched.
I looked at my opponents and knew that the worst that could happen was that I’d lose. That’s it. I’m not fighting at the Mundials, I’m no longer in the position where I’m getting battered all over the mats. So what did I have to worry about? Nothing. It was freeing. Andy lifted my spirits that day, and I think I performed better as a result.

With that said, earlier that day we were told it was not only absolute for the purple belts, but James Bland would be joining us. Origin’s Big Daddy himself, and brown belt supremo.
I was first matched with Jimmy, who’s probably my size or a little lighter. So naturally he proceeded to batter me all over the mats. The aim is to get the submission, and Jimmy wasted no time in firing them at me. The match is a bit of a blur. What I can remember is he took me down and started working his passing game from standing. I’m rarely bothered by being passed, because I can usually recover. Jimmy worked an armbar and a reverse triangle at one point (probably picking up on how Mighele finished me last year), but I was able to free myself from his shackles. I know for a fact that the decision wasn’t going my way, so I had to do something. Speedy’s always telling me to be aggressive, but I play the defensive game against purple belts a lot, due to my previously mentioned confidence. I almost nailed him with a loop choke, but shifted my hips when I should have held my position, he started to gurgle but escaped like the crafty man that he is. As the match neared the end, Jimmy sat back into an achilles lock, rather than continue to pass my guard. This was Christmas for me. I moved my hips slightly, sat up and locked up an achilles of my own. I had the boot on so that his own achilles lock was nulled, and proceeded to squeeze my own before putting my foot into position on his hip. The reason I didn’t put my foot on is hip, is so that I could step over if he turned away from me. The squeeze was tight enough, and I got the tap. A surprising end to a mostly one sided fight.

My next match was against longtime training partner Paul. I haven’t sparred with him in yonks, because we have different goals and we train different days currently. He kept his legs out of play, because he knows I’ve been working leg locks for weeks now (stupid fucking Facebook). He passed and used pressure a lot (shoulder of justice), we grip fought from guard, and again my loop choke was thwarted. Eventually he worked a head and arm choke after a reset, and I didn’t have the space to escape without hurting myself. He’s a powerful dude, and it was a good fun match.

So one win, and one loss. Better than I’ve faired in recent inter-clubs, and whilst there’s room for improvement I’m not actually disappointed with my performances. Both of my matches were really fun, and that’s what I’m there to do. Have fun with people I respect, and then reflect on the results afterwards.
I had some good chats with the guys around the mats, positive vibes were exchanged throughout the day, and that’s what this day is all about.

There were plenty of gradings handed out on the day. I won’t list them all but point out the two that I think had the biggest impact to the people involved.
The most deserving/long overdue of our lot, Tony finally got his blue belt. He’s been smashing guys in the gym for a while now, and anyone that walks through the door and saw him as a white belt, had no idea what they were letting themselves in for when they rolled with him. That mystery is gone, as he proudly dons the colour blue. It suits him.
Danny was given another two stripes on his belt, which means at the next grading he’ll either get his blue belt, or a shotgun slug in the face. You never can tell. Part of me hopes for the latter, because y’know King Prick.

Myself, Paul and Grant found ourselves in a very stripy position. We all have four stripes now. With each additional stripe at purple belt, the responsibility gets heavier. It’s time to conceptualise and create where appropriate, evolve creativity and refine the basics. Use ebb and flow to create that tight invisible Jiu-Jitsu we all long for. The next grading is months off and just around the corner at the very same time, so I’m going to make each second I can count. Since Saturday I’ve been to two classes, fuck resting.

Right, that’s enough. I’ve went on for far too long, and it’s getting late.

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Today was a cracking day at the inter-club grading. I had two tough matches, won one and lost the second. In my first match, I had trouble dealing with Jimmy's passing game and hip control. I came close to getting my patented loop choke but it wasn't to be. There were scrambles where I could create them. That's where I'm comfortable, scrambles and flow. In the closing minute he instigated the leg lock battle, which I've been working a lot of recently. He took an Achilles, so I paid him back in kind for the tap. He complimented me afterwards as I did him. It's been too long since we've sparred or fought against one another. My second match was against Paul P, the eventual finalist. I haven't rolled with Paul in ages, he's a big scary Judoka. He told me afterwards that I frustrated him in the grip battles, so that's ace. I again went for my patented loop choke but he was wise to it. Handsome bastard that he is. He bested me with a tight arm triangle in the closing seconds. It was a fun fight. I'm glad he didn't Uchi Mata me through the Earth's core. I feel great about today; regardless of the win or the loss I fought well, which for a while just hasn't been the case. I wasn't crushed by anxiety and I was able to just have fun. I think I was helped immensely by seeing Andy Bell sparring with Speedy, Scuba and Tyrone before the purple belts went to war. He's paralysed from the waist down from a motorbike accident, but it hasn't stopped him. He's an inspirational guy, with all the grit in the world to just keep pushing forwards regardless of how difficult it may be. It squashed whatever doubts I may have had about myself, and allowed me to just look at this for what it was, a chance to show off some good Jiu-Jitsu. I hope I did that today. Some of the BJJ on display was incredible. I'm incredibly impressed with the Tayside lot, who far exceeded my expectations against a tough group of guys. I train with these guys all the time, so I don't see the progression until these big days. There were promotions galore. I got my fourth stripe on my purple belt. Which means squeaky bum time. I need to shape up and sharp. #BJJ #BrazilianJiuJitsu #Grading #Interclub

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Eleven Stripe White Belt.

On the continual swing of the big fat Jiu-Jitsu pendulum, you’ll go from feeling like you’re worth your grade to feeling like an absolute spaz in the blink of an eye. You don’t get to decide when that happens unfortunately. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu isn’t generous with its learning curve. Just when you think you’re starting to piece things together, Robson Moura or some other technical ninja comes along and blows your tiny little fucking mind. It’s time to rethink your approach to this ridiculous sport.

When I reflect on this year, things have been going quite well to my mind’s eye. Sure I’m still getting caught, because I’m not immortal yet – but I’m getting there. I’m starting to really play with my Jiu-Jitsu game, and shape it around the opponent, or force them to play my game. Different goals with different rolls.
If I’m up against a white belt, I play off of their movement. Looking for various attacks within that. If I’m against a blue belt, I try and flow more under their pressure. Attacking where appropriate. Another purple belt, it’s about who can apply their game best. Brown, I’ll do everything I can to get the tap (thumb in the eye, squeeze of the balls, the lot). Black, I cower into a ball and die. Things are falling into place. Moves (as Billy would call them – techniques for everyone else) are no longer perplexing or difficult. Or at least I haven’t found something for a while that baffles me.

Easing out the year, I decided it would be a really fucking wonderful idea to get the cold/flu/AIDS concoction that’s flying about at the moment. As a result, I’ve had to miss out on quite a bit of training this month (all of last week & this week so far). I helped out with a class on Sunday, but rolling near killed me because of how fucked my chest still was. I’m still finding myself out of breath quite easily, because of how much of a bastard it was on the old respiratory system.

My club is wrapping up the year with a little Christmas grappling competition that I was hoping to attend, but alas – those dreams were well and truly stabbed right in the shitter by my malaria/dengue fever/polio super-virus. I was hoping that this would be the right little taste of friendly competition needed, in a trusted environment to get me ready for next year’s plans. I was also hoping to meet Olly at some point, so that I could pull guard just to fuck him off.

Next year I’m going to do that competition thing that I so seldom do. I’ve always kept an active eye on the competition scene but I’ve always struggled to justify actually doing them. Money, travel, fear, anxiety, etc have gotten in the way. More recently, I’ve taken a look at the team of guys I have around me, and I think it’s apt to use a Scottish term here – but they’re all good cunts. I’m training with good people on a regular basis, and the feedback I get personally from some of those people is great. So myself and a group of guys will be hitting up the competitive mats in the new year. I’ve no illusions of how I’ll do, but the first hurdle is actually getting off of my lazy fucking arse and into battle. If I falter at the first competiton, then my goal will be to do better at the second, and so on and so forth until I am the supreme destroyer of worlds. I figure I’ll be able to enter the competitions as an eleven stripe white belt. That’s cool, right?

This’ll probably be my last waffle of the year, so Merry Christ and happy newness to you all. Cheery bye!

Progress.

On Saturday, I decided to get my arse into gear and go back down to Newcastle for another of Speedy’s bi-annual grading days. I hadn’t been down in a whole fucking year. Which is pretty shitty on my part but it couldn’t really be helped due to problems with anxiety and health. I say arse into gear, I had to be coaxed into going but hey. This is a big ‘un by the way, sorry about that.

This time last year, I had my arse well and truly punted all over Tyne Met by Hubert and Fahad. Their technique was far superior to mine, and I felt embarrassed by even being there. You’re inevitably going to go to battle with people that are better than you, but that’s the first time I just wasn’t able to put up any fight at all (that I can recall). It was a whitewash, and I’ve felt shitty since.

Fast forward to May and I couldn’t attend the grading for two main reasons – I was having issues with my stomach (AGAIN!), and I really couldn’t face the idea of getting absolutely obliterated in front of my peers again. I’m not what you’d call a competitor. I was never athletically gifted as a child, or even inclined to be (save for riding my bike fucking everywhere, and being shite at football behind the park). It wasn’t until my adult years I actually found something physical that I genuinely fell in love with, in grappling. What I haven’t fallen in love with of course, is the peaks and valleys that go with it. There’s trippy highs, agonising lows and the plateaus in between. That’s some difficult shit right there. When you’re not an athlete, the highs are few and far between, so you’ve got to push through all the bullshit to get there.

Since last year’s grading, I’ve missed quite a bit of training to start the new calendar year, so that I could focus on fixing the physical ailments that governed my abilities (or inabilities, as it were) on the mats. With a bit of help from the doctor, I’m now in the best place physically I’ve been for years (my fitness is still shocking, because I’m still pretty fucking lazy). I don’t worry about pain or discomfort when going to training, and I can actually just focus on the training. So that’s great. Leading up to this grading, I’ve been far more attentive in my training – taking in as many classes and sessions as I can with a busy work schedule.
I’ve been able to teach here and there, and most importantly I’m not focusing entirely on Gi training. I’ve been sparring NoGi  and picking up bits and bobs from the people I’m rolling with, and the coaches around the NoGi scene. This approach and mix of training partners has allowed my game to come on from where it was last year. I feel confident on the mats in my own club, and that’s pretty cool because it took a long fucking time to get there.

Where I still don’t feel confident is the competitive scene. I’m well aware that a friendly inter-club shouldn’t be considered competition, but it is. Doing poorly there, reflects poorly on the training and learning I’ve been given over the last year. I’m not only embarrassing myself, but my coaches and training partners. So that’s not a position I like to be in. That’s where my anxiety stems from. Looking foolish in front of my peers, when I believe I can do better.

This year it took me quite a bit of convincing to get back down to Newcastle for this grading day. Strangely enough I feel comfortable as a purple belt now, but when you’re pulling up the ever lengthening measuring stick of where you stack up against other purple belts, I still consider myself wholly shitty at this sport. As a result, going to war with other people my age/weight/level crumbles me. I’m fine until I step on the mats, but it’s then that I just shell up into oblivion. If I’m having a friendly roll, I’m cool. If I think competitively, I shit my pants.

My other half was very instrumental in pushing me towards overcoming this anxiety. I also turned to Speedy, Sloany and Grant who all delivered choice words to help me take the pressure off of the inter-club. I felt suitably relieved and actually happy about going down to Newcastle to support my teammates.
I’d shifted the focus off of my own journey, onto my peers. I want to see them do well, and to do that, I need to be there.

The Dundee and Perth lot did really well. I took the side of the mats, and coached where I could alongside other seasoned Jiu-Jidiots. Adam, Ronnie and Sloany were the standouts of the day, all getting long overdue shiny new belts (blue, blue and purple retrospectively). Something I really appreciated from the Newcastle and Darlington lot was their coaching instruction when the Dundee and Perth guys were facing each other. Naturally at the side lines, you can’t pick a side when you know both parties involved well, so it was great to see other guys taking that on, and helping out.

For my own match, I faced one of Dom’s up and comers ( a 10th Planet Purple belt). As soon as Dom approached me about it, I lost whatever spark I had for my proposed match. I was meant to be facing familiar ground, and now I was facing the great unknown. Scary. I could see him warming up, and I was already defeated mentally. I needed a moment to collect my thoughts and get my shit together. As I was walking over to the other mat to see how Sloany’s match was going, I was called up. This was it. Me vs Mighele right fucking now. I faced him, shook hands, bumped fists etc and he went for the takedown. I just did what I could, where I could to stop his onslaught of attacks. In my mind’s eye there were scrambles, but I don’t know if I’m remembering the fight better than I actually did, because of the positive comments I received afterwards. At one point, he had me in an armbar that I was later told the ref was on the verge of stopping the fight over, but I just waited until I could find my way out (a big thanks to those who were coaching me from the sidelines at this point. I distinctly remember hearing Ant). Once I’d worked my way out of the armbar, I managed to scramble to my feet before getting tripped again.
I attempted a single butterfly sweep, but failed miserably and ended up in a dorsal-fin kimura. This wasn’t good, but I wasn’t tapping. Mighele adjusted and lead me into the reverse triangle. When he pulled my arm across my neck, I was truly fucked. I was done. Life was leaving my lungs and I tapped.

In all that though, I felt calm. I don’t think I lost my cool, became panicked or embarrassed myself like I did last year. Sure, I was bettered in the fight but I actually had fun going against Migele, and would like to do so again one day, regardless of the result. If I’d had a moment to collect my thoughts, I probably would’ve picked more faults in my game, as I often do. Afterwards, I spoke with Migele and Billy (another of Dom’s guys). It was a good reflection on the match that just happened, and also part of what makes this sport, and these inter-clubs so great. There’s no animosity between anyone. It’s not the demon filled hell pit I seem to have in my imagination. I shouldn’t be fearing this like I am, or suffering whatever anxiety I do. I need to move on. I need to move forward.

Next year, I’m going to take a more active approach to competing. It’s something I’ve severely neglected in Jiu-Jitsu and part of what I believe makes me such a shitty purple belt. The first competition I have my sights on is in February, and a lot of guys from the club are already keen to go. I’m going to have to get out there, and start getting my arse kicked by people that people that actually want to kill me, so that when it comes to the inter-club I can better make the distinction between war and fun.

I also had some great rolls with Big Show, Dom and Speedy on the day that deserve a mention. Dom and Speedy toyed with me, like the devious bastards they are. Speedy gave me a few things to work on, so that’s cool.

I’m aware I’ve rambled throughout this piece, but that’s entirely the point of this blog. I have to be able to put down the good, the bad and the ugly. The big difference with this year’s ‘performance’ is that I’m raring to go, and ready to get back on the mats tonight. Which is exactly where I need to be to continue improving. I’ve made progress in that defeat, rather than shying away like I did a year ago.

Off you fuck then.

Goddamn Ills.

The human body is a complete bastard. Those of you that have one, will know that. I’ve had my fair share of minor niggles throughout my life, but nothing truly major, fortunately. This’ll seem like a walk in the park to most of you, who have probably smashed your bodies to bits, but what I’m about to go into, whilst grim is completely taken for granted.

Recently my digestive health has plummeted. My body has become absolutely fucking useless at taking in food, stealing all the nutrients required and disposing of the waste in a timely manner as you’d expect. I’ve been constipated. Boohoo, you’re probably thinking. However, this started properly before Christmas. It’s now fucking May. It’s a maddening cycle of getting constipated for several days on end, all the cramps that go with it, and then your body saying, hey fuck this. Once your body decides fuck this, operation megashit kicks in, and everything needs to be evacuted. This can also be painful. A proper knee wobbler, if you will. There’s no point in diluting that. That’s exactly what’s happening. It’s awful.

I’ve had IBS all of my life. Normally, it’s perfectly fine. I’ll have a stress related bout of the shits, or a food based bout of constipation. Normal people get that. Lately though, my bowel is being a total fucking wanker. If someone could conjure up a ‘go to fix’ pill, that’d be great. Doctors will tell you to try something, and when it fails, you’ll try something else and so on and so forth; until you die some weeks later suffering from complete boredom and total disdain for the stupidity of your own useless fucking meatbag body.
I’ve been through various diet modifications that don’t fix anything, and then all of a sudden one day, things just go back to normal. Hey presto, I’m no longer suffering from a spastic colon and the hellacious cramps that go with it.
Several months in, I haven’t yet met that day. I’ve been through this nonsense before, and it usually just rights itself. This is without a doubt the longest period of bowel misery since I broke my collarbone. That was caused by the accompanying medusa like painkillers turned my shit into fucking stone. ANYWAYS; I’ve been grabbing a class when I can, on the days I don’t feel like punching a hole in the earth.

This Saturday coming is one of Speedy’s bi-annual grading days. It’s a day where you get to meet up with a load of pals from Speedy’s other affiliated clubs, and have a friendly Jiu-Jitsu competition between one another. You’ll be matched up against people your size and grade, and the higher belts assess how you’ve progressed from the last time they saw you. If the stars align, you might get a stripe or a belt, or a wee friendly pat on the back from Speedy. Hey you’re not as shit as I thought you were. It’s a great day out.

Naturally, I’ve made the decision not to attend this grading. This year my training has been fragmented to say the least. I’ll grab a class here or there, but nothing consistent. I don’t feel I’ve progressed since November, and whilst I had a really positive class tonight where techniques were all fitting together and just working as they should, it’s not representative of how my training has been of late. I also can’t count on my body not to be an absolute fucking prick to me over the next few days. I felt good enough today to have a decent day at work, followed by a brilliant Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, but tomorrow is a brand new day that could be filled with stabbing pain in the abdomen. Yipee.

My current focus is to get back to normal health. Once the ill is conquered, I’ll be catching the next rocketship to Newcastle to get an absolute pasting from Speedy’s finest. Once I’ve recovered from that battering, I’ll get back on the mats frequently and focus on the grading in November. If I get smashed to bits then, so be it, but at least I’ll be my best self, and have no excuses. My goal in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is to be the best version of me that I can be, and currently I know I’m just not that. It’s one thing not progressing, but there are days when I feel like I’m going completely backwards.

If you’ve made it to the end, thanks for reading and getting through the grim stuff. It took every fibre of my being not to be super graphic, but hey this blog is a PG-13, not completely Rated R.

Right fuck off. x