BJJ Lesson 28 – The First Year

Now that Christmas is upon us and the new year is not far away, many of us take the opportunity to reflect on the past year and create resolutions for the new year. This time of year coincides with the anniversary of me joining my club, Mathouse, and committing myself to at least 3 classes per week. On this anniversary I thought I’d make some general notes on my experience to date. It should provide a general overview of what to expect in the first year.

First up is be prepared to work hard. BJJ is physically demanding in a way that is hard to quantify. If you google “How many calories do I burn at BJJ” you will get many different answers.  Each individual is unique and will burn a varying number of calories based on age, metabolism, goals and weight. Using this calculator I burn 801 calories per hour. Not entirely true as a class has a warm-up, lesson, drills, sparring and then cool down and stretch. Each has a different level of effort.

Second, you will get injured. Whether it’s from the accidental blunt trauma of a flailing limb, hyperextending joints from a submission hold or overexertion damaging muscle tissue there will be times when you are off the mat and unable to train. Try to keep these to a minimum.  It really pays to look after yourself. Eat well, stay hydrated and make sure you get rest days in.

Your mental health will benefit tremendously. Time on the mat is time not dwelling or ruminating on life. When you are fighting, holding a submission or trying to escape you are completely absorbed in the moment. It is 100% focus and attention to the matter at hand which leaves no room for negativity. Also,   regular physical activity leads to improved self-esteem. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine. Powerful stuff.

You will learn proven self-defence techniques. BJJ was developed as an effective adaptation of Japanese Jiu Jitsu specifically for the smaller person to use against larger opponents. Personally, I find that knowing a handful of takedowns and the sequence of positions to gain mount or some other position to neutralise a threat gives me a lot of self-confidence. I’ve never needed it but it is so ingrained in my muscle memory from repeating it over and over that if a situation was to present itself I think I would know what to do without letting adrenalin, ego or anger take over.

Finally, you will make many new friends. No matter how big the club you will eventually roll with everyone. You will see them every second day and close bonds are built among members of the club.

There is so much more I could write but having written 28 posts on the subject of BJJ I’d recommend taking a deeper look at my blog and having a read.