20 May 2010
I often think back to the first time I tried BJJ. It was in 2003 and I was curious to find out more about this Gracie thing I kept hearing about. You see back then I was really in to my Japanese style of trad ju-jitsu and loving the training, but throughout my journey I kept coming across Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It was unavoidable, there was a growing library of BJJ books, websites, forums and a couple of clubs in London. However, because I was commited to my trad-JJ training, I wasn't really interested, until one day I attended a trad-JJ seminar on groundfighting run by a judo and ju-jitsu instructor (who was a wonderful man and has since passed away).
One seminar of groundfighting - and remember this was nothing to do with BJJ - lit my fire like no other sport or activity has ever done. During the seminar we learned one or two chokes and joint locks applied whilst in side mount of something - I can't remember the details - but it was the sparring at the end that really stoked me up. I lost horribly each time but I loved it at the same time. I knew, from that moment on, I wanted to explore this further.
It took a wee while for me to find a club to try out a BJJ session. But I did and it was amazing. Just the whole laid back atmosphere of the class, the variety of cool techniques and of course the very intense and aliveness of the sparring - all of it was a world away from what I was used to. I remember to this day, the first lesson I did covered spider guard...just picture how amazing it is to try something this cool when you've never ever seen spider guard before? Back then, there were no beginner lessons, you were simply dropped in at the deep end. It took me quite a long long while to find my feet, and sparring for me was awful, I really felt I was going backwards each session, and yet I persisted. I never forget those early sessions, they have formed the bedrock of how I train and roll today.
And so that was my first time. What was yours like?