The Did-Wells and Next-Times of BJJ

Well, looks like I did get around to writing a “goals” post. It’s pretty self-explanatory but I wanted to take the time to reflect (man, that’s a lame turn of phrase) on how’s it’s gone so far and set a few goals for the next year. I tried to keep it reasonable (smart), and I’ll try to remember to look back at each milestone to see how/what I’ve done in comparison to the goals.

(Aside: the title comes from my time working at a bank, and their performance reviews had been morphed into the Orwellian newspeak where there was nothing negative, only did-wells and next-times.)

Recap of BJJ so far:

All in all, it’s been going great. Better than expected, actually. Try as you might, you always entering into new things with preconceived ideas, no matter how open-minded you try to be. Anyways, so thoughts about BJJ so far:

  • My wife is loving BJJ right now. Probably the biggest reason why the inclusion of it into our lives has gone so smoothly.
  • My four-year old has taken a few classes, and seems to like it as well. I say ‘seems’ because… well, he’s four. He’s a very physical boy, and we think this is right up his alley, as well as we’re very comfortable with the professor/atmosphere he’s being taught in.
  • I’m loving it, too. There were a few things that I wasn’t sure how I’d react to (if I’m being honest), like the close contact nature, the intensity of sparring, or the feeling of getting submitted (especially choked). I’m a wuss at heart, but all the things I had worried about not liking have been a non-issue.
  • we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how accessible it is. Maybe that’s due to the specific situation at our school; the professor and fellow students have been better than we could’ve hoped for. But, the techniques are pretty intuitive and make logical sense. No mystical mumbo jumbo, or secret death touches. No hardcore attitudes or tough guy bullshit.
  • The physical aspect of training BJJ has been great; it’s a great workout, and it’s a nice challenge. But the biggest positive has been how mental interesting it is. There is an incredible amount to learn, with each position or technique leading to many other possibilities. I’ve read about the grappler’s high, and that seems apt.
  • I say this about golf, but if fits with BJJ, too: it’s a good metaphor for life. For example: there is no perfection, only progress. It wouldn’t be meaningful of your could be a black belt in 8 months. Take your time, do it right, be a little better every day. Kaizen.
  • After talking about some of the things we’ve liked so far, we both had this thought: there’s no expectation of being good, certainly as a beginner. Interestingly, this provides a sense of freedom. There are other aspects of life that feel like we should already be “good” at, or at least better than we are now. Failing in BJJ (for the most part) doesn’t say anything about you; just tap, learn, try again. Whereas failing as an employee, manager or parent brings about thoughts like “what does this failure say about me? Maybe I’m just not cut out to blahblahblah”. Typical human insecurities at work, everyone has them, but in BJJ the small victories and failures occur so rapidly and frequently you learn to not focus on them. They’re just part of the process. They’re the means to an end, not the end.

Goals for 2013:

3 month goals:

  • regular attendance, try to average twice a week. This should be pretty realistic, given the fit of our schedules right now. We talk all the time that in a fantasy world where we have no kids (and thus, tons of money), we would be on the mats 4 or 5 days a week.
  • develop better endurance during sparring. Every piece of advice for this goal that I’ve read or heard is from one theme: spar more. That being said, I’m sure doing some non-BJJ conditioning (like sprints) won’t hurt.
  • establish a consistent lifting program, twice a week. Nothing crazy, basic lifts, linear progression, etc. “Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general”. I’ll log it here.
  • a couple of basic escapes from the various bottom positions. More specifically, there’s two parts to this. First, recognize one to two steps earlier that I’m about to be put in a bad position (where I can’t escape from), and second, apply some technique/fundamental principle when it’s still possible to escape.
  • application (in sparring) of the few attacks I do know so far. One thing I’ve learned so far, there is a big difference in knowing and doing in BJJ.
  • get my wife to guest post. The women’s BJJ community in Edmonton is small, but growing, and there are lots of online resources. Adding her perspective would be good as a potential resource for other women starting out, as well as it will be interesting to look back on her thoughts once we become more experienced.

6 month goals:

  • a couple of basic attacks (and defenses/escapes) from all positions. Specifically, techniques that are understood to a level where I can try/apply in sparring
  • attend open mat once per month at a minimum. At the very least, a good way to increase my sparring capacity.
  • find an opportunity to roll on vacation. We go away a couple of times a year, and it would be interesting to see what life is like at other schools, under different professors. We spend about 2 weeks in Maui each year, I’m going to see if I can arrange something.

12 month goals:

  • prepare for grading. Not really sure what to expect here, all I know is there is a specific curriculum, and Master Behring comes to town twice a year for grading and seminars.
  • attend two seminars and workshops. This shouldn’t be too hard, considering the grading cycle mentioned above.
  • read two BJJ books. I’ve already started one (Mastering Jujitsu), and I’m about 1/3rd through. Very interesting read so far, as up until this point it’s been about the history BJJ, from theories of origin to judo to present. I have my eye on Jiu Jitsu University and The Art of Learning at the moment.
  • give serious consideration to competition. Admittedly this is not a priority for me, or of any real interest. But, I might as well consider it, as it seems a lot less intimidating than it did at first.
  • keep up with this journal. Also, write more gooder. I’m not looking to become F Scott Fitzgerald, but I spent a lot of time and money on “education”, I shouldn’t be so painful to read.

6 responses to “The Did-Wells and Next-Times of BJJ

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