The time went by so fast and it has been a year. This is just for me to reflect on where I am in BJJ.
Areas I have improved in BJJ
I am much better fighting off my back (something that at first was unusual for me as a striker)
My side control and mount is much harder to break out of
My main submissions are chokes from side control, arm bar from knee on belly or side control and the occasional crucifixion choke
My best escapes are from mount
I have 2 main takedowns, ude-gaeshi and hikkoki nage along with a few tackles at single and double leg
My half guard/quarter guard game is probably my strong point
My main sweeps are scissor, flower and quarter guard sweeps
Guard breaking has improved a lot I think because I have added more variation and combinations
Areas I need to work on in BJJ
Side control escapes against larger or stronger opponents
Rear mount escapes
Cardiovascular ability so I am always moving
Passing the spider or inverted guard
Always looking for the underhook and stopping the crossface
Half guard sweeps
Using triangles – I suck at them or miss the opportunity to finish with them
Factors that have improved in my life due to BJJ
Since starting BJJ, I sometimes feel like Peter Parker in the first Spiderman movie where he catches the girl’s tray and all her stuff on it with lightning reactions. I’m fairly clumsy by nature and always dropping things from shelves as I scrabble for some object. In the last year, everything that has dropped I have caught mid-air and many times I have surprised myself at how quick my reactions have become.
In the past, I have done lots of weight training such as multi-joint moves such as squats, deadlifts and snatches. Right now in comparison to where I was, my strength is much lower. This probably has a lot to do with me not doing those heavy weights any more rather than gaining no strength from BJJ. On the other hand, my grip strength is so much better but at the cost of a few deformed knuckles.
Cardio and weight maintenance
I have been in better cardiovascular shape having done a few rounds of Beachbody’s P90X. My heart rate is still fairly low (60s) and I have continued to stay at the steady weight of 73 kg throughout the entire year. When I ever stopped doing P90X in the past my weight inevitably moved from the 72 kg bracket to 76 or 78 kg within 6 months. BJJ definitely keeps the weight off.
Now this is a big thing with doing BJJ. If you ever wanted to get rid of stress, BJJ will help you to do just that. There is no other feeling that beats a night of BJJ apart from sex with a hot chick. If you’ve ever heard Arnold talk about “The Pump” and how euphoric it can be as all those feel-good chemicals swill around in your brain, BJJ is just like that.
Before starting BJJ, I as many other guys, have been under the false impression that I could take care of myself. That small guy over there, yeah, I could take him sort of attitude. BJJ teaches you that appearances can be deceiving. It teaches you to lose the ego and accept your failings. There will always be a bigger fish than you, as they say. I am much calmer nowadays thanks to BJJ. I am also more wary of people and don’t jump to conclusions but I also carry a confidence I didn’t have before.
Injuries and pain
Sadly, this is one area that has made me at times think about quitting BJJ. It made me ask the question “Is it worth it?” For a younger guy this may not be a problem but as the body ages it can become less resilient. To date, I have dislocated my thumb, gotten ear pain, broken my left foot, developed a right groin strain (which still is not perfect), pulled my left shoulder muscle and hurt my neck. I know lot of guys who have ripped the cartilage on their ribs, hurt their knees and had broken fingers. BJJ seems gentle at first but it can hurt you at the most inconspicuous of times. I’ve heard that as you become more adept, injuries will decrease.