T Nation

Thoughts After Yesterday's Session

I posted this in the How to Train sticky and saves me writing the background again. This was on 7th September.

I started at an MMA gym in August, prior to that I focused heavily on BB and PL pursuits. When I mean “pursuits” I mean it was more than a hobby and gave me great enjoyment designing programs, meals, supplements etc. Hence my activity on this site. From about April I lost interest quite suddenly and I’m embracing MMA to spark passion again. My main goals are getting down to 85kg from 105kg, control my blood sugar (type 2 D) and get proficient at combat (my focus will be muay thai first but the gym i joined also does BJJ and I’m very keen but it also looks very tough).

It’s now 9th Oct two months later and I know it’s only been 2 months and it’s probably the endorphins from last night’s session talking but I feel/believe BJJ has got me out of rut that I never thought I’d see daylight from. Only in July/August this year from work pressure, I felt completely lost, depressed, searched for life coaching, seminars to “fix” myself, just a whole heap of depressing thoughts brought on by work, interaction with colleagues etc. It was spilling over into home affecting my relationship with my wife and young daughter (which I still can’t forgive myself over). Just a lot of anger, depression, hopelessness.

I initially went searching for Muay Thai gyms, tried No Gi Grappling and from the conditioning work and my first rounds of grappling I feel absolutely hooked. I feel like it’s a missing part of my life. Can you feel me?! lol

Now I’ve lost a bit of weight (to be measured), my mood is infinitely better, I’m getting my diet back to the better days when I watched what I ate (doing IF with limiting carb consumption). I am focusing on BJJ but looking at additional conditioning and wrestling classes during each week. MT is also offered so while I’m interested I don’t want to do it just yet.

How do I keep this passion on going and permanent?
What are realistic goals for the 1st year?
What are some daily activities that help build skill? (drills etc)

Thanks. Shout out to rundymc also because I don’t think I would have found this without his own passion and influence for this.

“How do I keep this passion on going and permanent?”

Congratulations on your physical and mental success, it takes a strong person to overcome personal demons. There are better qualified people on this forum who can advise you on BJJ than me, but, as far as the mental aspect to keep training, try to develop a “combat mindset” for survival. There are myriad reasons to train, regardless of how “safe” you feel your environment is: You spoke of having a daughter, then you are her protector, what better reason to make yourself the best you can be?

Second from an internal prospective: the next time you are in front of a mirror, ask yourself these simple questions: Are you a predator? or are you prey? Are you going to survive or die? Are you a victor? or are you vanquished? Strive to win. Stay safe, train hard.

Great post from Idaho.

I would add from a sport perspective that to maintain passion you need to keep improving, and you need to compete.

Improvement is fairly obvious, as to how it will affect your passion.

Competition is, in my view, the key to longevity. Competing makes you realise how much better you can be.

As far as realistic goals go, a friend of mine competes BJJ and has won a few tournaments. He is in a top gym and is very talented. He was blue belt after 12 months. You should aim for 11.5, because, well, why not? It is do-able, so why not try and be the one to do it. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t, because if you have trained hard enough to be in with a realistic shout, then you will be there or there abouts.

That paragraph is 100% first class golden touchy feely pep-talk bullshit, and I am disgusted with myself. It is also pretty true.

Hey Xandah,
I second what London said about competing. Do it. Might set you back a few hundred bucks down here since all the good competitions are next door in Bangkok, Manila etc, but its worth it. Let’s you know where you’re at and gives you impetus to improve.

Focus on getting better. I know that sounds pretty damn obvious, but plenty of people go to class day after day and expect drilling a few techniques and rolling around to magically improve their game. It doesn’t work like that (you “plateau” so to speak).

Instead search out the most obviously shitty part of your game, be it lousy side control, useless guard, lack of effective offense from mount, and fix them.

On that note, a lot of people in BJJ, mostly the newer guys, like to play up the mysticism of Black Belts. There’s nothing mystic about black belts, and more importantly black belt technique. A white belt can have as good an armbar as a black belt (and suck everywhere else). There’s nothing wrong in striving to be “black belt level” in a given move.

Also on that note, don’t get caught up with all the “cool new shit” in BJJ. Every year or two something new pops up, be it berimbolos, rubber guard, deep half etc. Now to clarify, this stuff actually does work, but don’t rush to them and miss all the good stuff that actually makes you a decent grappler. The fundamentals (guard work, guard passing, base, top control) will carry you a long way, as a dozen top grapplers last decade can attest to.

As for the rest of your questions:

  • I’m not big on belts personally, so what I like to do is to monitor how well I do grappling with other guys. Really subjective, especially if you remember that other people are getting better too, but it creates a bit of a race within your class. Has kind of worked thus far, hahah.

  • Keep limber. Some simple stretching helps. You don’t need to be PlasticMan or anything, but nothings worse than not being able to get an armbar because your leg won’t go that high… well, except getting your balls kicked… and about 50 other things… I’ll stop now.

Welcome to the sport.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
Great post from Idaho.

I would add from a sport perspective that to maintain passion you need to keep improving, and you need to compete.

[/quote]

As Idaho alludes to developing a warrior mindset will provide you with a deep of passion and ferocity which you can draw on in all areas of your personal and professional life. This is what allows you to persevere and excel in the face of crushing adversity and I can think of no personal quality which is of greater value.

As London points out from a sporting perspective, in any sport having a specific event that you’re training for on a specific date keeps you passionate, focused and accountable when the training grind starts to become a grind. Club sparring sessions are great and can be highly competitive, but they’re no substitute for putting it all out there and testing yourself against a total stranger who wants it just as bad as you do.

This came as a rude awakening to me the first time I competed formally. I was training TKD at the time (I know, I know) but I already had some background in boxing/kickboxing and was a confident and aggressive fighter. I had grown complacent after having become one of the more dominant fighters in my club in a fairly short time. I was a green belt and I was regularly holding my own against and often beating black belts. I thought I was hot shit and everyone in my club had become pretty conservative when sparring with me because I was well respected. Classic big fish/small pond scenario.

I went into my first comp expecting to breeze through and was totally unprepared for the raw intensity and will to win that the other guy brought. He had no idea “who I was” and he didn’t give a shit. Got my ass handed to me. Twice. I never forgot how that felt and, new age touchy-feely, I’m OK you’re OK stuff aside, shame can be a very powerful motivator, for me at least. Complacency is a big enemy of passion IMO, and few things will jerk you out of complacency like an upcoming competition date where you will face the unknown. You can’t really know where you stand so you want to be sure you have done all you can to be ready.

Glad you’re enjoying your it.

Train hard, fight easy.

Edited

[quote]idaho wrote:
“How do I keep this passion on going and permanent?”

Congratulations on your physical and mental success, it takes a strong person to overcome personal demons. There are better qualified people on this forum who can advise you on BJJ than me, but, as far as the mental aspect to keep training, try to develop a “combat mindset” for survival. There are myriad reasons to train, regardless of how “safe” you feel your environment is: You spoke of having a daughter, then you are her protector, what better reason to make yourself the best you can be?

Second from an internal prospective: the next time you are in front of a mirror, ask yourself these simple questions: Are you a predator? or are you prey? Are you going to survive or die? Are you a victor? or are you vanquished? Strive to win. Stay safe, train hard.
[/quote]

Thanks idaho. Thank you for the perspective questions. It’s a mind shift and I will think on these questions on the mat when training and at home when alone. And this mindset will help in my work also (sales/leadership role).

Last year (March 2011) I bought Fighter’s Mind by Sam Sheridan and back then really on read one chapter (the one on Dan Gable) but I found it again and have been reading it all week and was pleasantly surprised to see chapters focusing on Greg Jackson and Renzo Gracie.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
Great post from Idaho.

I would add from a sport perspective that to maintain passion you need to keep improving, and you need to compete.

Improvement is fairly obvious, as to how it will affect your passion.

Competition is, in my view, the key to longevity. Competing makes you realise how much better you can be.

As far as realistic goals go, a friend of mine competes BJJ and has won a few tournaments. He is in a top gym and is very talented. He was blue belt after 12 months. You should aim for 11.5, because, well, why not? It is do-able, so why not try and be the one to do it. Don’t get disheartened if you don’t, because if you have trained hard enough to be in with a realistic shout, then you will be there or there abouts.

That paragraph is 100% first class golden touchy feely pep-talk bullshit, and I am disgusted with myself. It is also pretty true.[/quote]

Thanks LondonBoxer. The thought of competing really changed my perspective on this. Hungry4More once said the same thing on competing, and how important it was to improve us (to give us a goal etc). I picked a training place where I can train 7 days a week and regardless of my work and home schedule I can still conceivably train at least 1 hour a day. This will add up and deeper I go the more I am understanding. It’s teaching me humility as well.

[quote]rundymc wrote:
Hey Xandah,
I second what London said about competing. Do it. Might set you back a few hundred bucks down here since all the good competitions are next door in Bangkok, Manila etc, but its worth it. Let’s you know where you’re at and gives you impetus to improve.

Focus on getting better. I know that sounds pretty damn obvious, but plenty of people go to class day after day and expect drilling a few techniques and rolling around to magically improve their game. It doesn’t work like that (you “plateau” so to speak).

Instead search out the most obviously shitty part of your game, be it lousy side control, useless guard, lack of effective offense from mount, and fix them.

On that note, a lot of people in BJJ, mostly the newer guys, like to play up the mysticism of Black Belts. There’s nothing mystic about black belts, and more importantly black belt technique. A white belt can have as good an armbar as a black belt (and suck everywhere else). There’s nothing wrong in striving to be “black belt level” in a given move.

Also on that note, don’t get caught up with all the “cool new shit” in BJJ. Every year or two something new pops up, be it berimbolos, rubber guard, deep half etc. Now to clarify, this stuff actually does work, but don’t rush to them and miss all the good stuff that actually makes you a decent grappler. The fundamentals (guard work, guard passing, base, top control) will carry you a long way, as a dozen top grapplers last decade can attest to.

As for the rest of your questions:

  • I’m not big on belts personally, so what I like to do is to monitor how well I do grappling with other guys. Really subjective, especially if you remember that other people are getting better too, but it creates a bit of a race within your class. Has kind of worked thus far, hahah.

  • Keep limber. Some simple stretching helps. You don’t need to be PlasticMan or anything, but nothings worse than not being able to get an armbar because your leg won’t go that high… well, except getting your balls kicked… and about 50 other things… I’ll stop now.

Welcome to the sport.
[/quote]

Thanks man, seriously. I know we used to laugh and joke about all things related to BB etc and BJJ was something you did but it wasn’t till I saw you grapple that I realised how good you are and how humble you are about it. Mad respect.

Last night I found a new way to be submitted from taking a guys back. I thought I was in a dominant position but he pinned my foot and for a few seconds I didn’t know what was happening. Working on weaknesses this is great advice. I commented to my wife the other day that what I like about grappling is the unpredictability of it, that I don’t know what will happen next. For anyone that knows me, this is not me - I am conservative, focused, prefer stability over risk.

Regional tournaments sounds doable especially since most of Southeast Asia is 2-3 hours away.

I think having a belt as a goal is important but also the long term learning is beyond belt colour. I have attained a blue belt in Aikido around 10 years ago, back then my goals were different, now it’s get fitter, go longer, train better, challenge myself every time, enjoy myself.

We will definitely have time to get physical and philosophical in this sport :slight_smile:

[quote]batman730 wrote:

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
Great post from Idaho.

I would add from a sport perspective that to maintain passion you need to keep improving, and you need to compete.

[/quote]

As Idaho alludes to developing a warrior mindset will provide you with a deep of passion and ferocity which you can draw on in all areas of your personal and professional life. This is what allows you to persevere and excel in the face of crushing adversity and I can think of no personal quality which is of greater value.

As London points out from a sporting perspective, in any sport having a specific event that you’re training for on a specific date keeps you passionate, focused and accountable when the training grind starts to become a grind. Club sparring sessions are great and can be highly competitive, but they’re no substitute for putting it all out there and testing yourself against a total stranger who wants it just as bad as you do.

This came as a rude awakening to me the first time I competed formally. I was training TKD at the time (I know, I know) but I already had some background in boxing/kickboxing and was a confident and aggressive fighter. I had grown complacent after having become one of the more dominant fighters in my club in a fairly short time. I was a green belt and I was regularly holding my own against and often beating black belts. I thought I was hot shit and everyone in my club had become pretty conservative when sparring with me because I was well respected. Classic big fish/small pond scenario.

I went into my first comp expecting to breeze through and was totally unprepared for the raw intensity and will to win that the other guy brought. He had no idea “who I was” and he didn’t give a shit. Got my ass handed to me. Twice. I never forgot how that felt and, new age touchy-feely, I’m OK you’re OK stuff aside, shame can be a very powerful motivator, for me at least. Complacency is a big enemy of passion IMO, and few things will jerk you out of complacency like an upcoming competition date where you will face the unknown. You can’t really know where you stand so you want to be sure you have done all you can to be ready.

Glad you’re enjoying your it.

Train hard, fight easy.

Edited[/quote]

thanks batman730 for offering your experience and advice. I am a physically big guy and for now I’ve been using that as my “advantage” but my weight is going to drop and if i don’t work on technique or challenge during a tournament i’m never going to know how far i could go. As i said earlier this feels like a missing part of my life.

I am not one to wax philosophical about combat sports because it’s just not in me, and those that do so irritate me nearly to the degree that those who get all poetic about deadlifting and call themselves “Brothers in the iron” or some gay shit like that do.

However, that’s not to say that I disagree with Idaho at all - essentially I believe him to be right in the reasons why you MUST take it seriously. Any guy that can’t physically defend his family has issues in my eyes.

And I’ve heard the saying that all fighters (more likely “most” but whatever) were drawn to this trade because they were made a victim at one time and didn’t know how to react or what to do. As a guy who was ALWAYS shorter than everyone else and had to fight for everything and create a vastly over-aggressive nature to even things out, I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Take up any martial art, but particularly those that require high levels of conditioning and are either very violent (boxing or Muay Thai) or very competitive (BJJ or wrestling), and you’re going to find out some shit about yourself.

It’s going to calm you down, especially with the type of guy you sound like (I’m a bit like that as well) and if you’re not particularly big on religion it might fill that void the way AA does for an alcoholic. I can say that in that respect, boxing saved me - it became more important than that drink or whatever, gave me a reason to stay sober and wake up early in the morning.

But there’ll be some negatives too. You’re going to get a little inured to violence, and you’re not gonna care so much what lines you cross until someone puts you back in your place. If you’re like me, and you came from an environment where stuff got settled physically, you’ll be plenty willing to take it there before others in the real or professional world might. But it’ll probably keep you connected to the street a little more, make you a little more callous, a little harder. More of a man, less of a pussy desk rider, if you get my drift. Be careful with that.

But like I said, even though I’m not much for ruminating on combat shit romantically - and please, don’t ever refer to yourself as a warrior, guys of any art that do that suck major ass - the one thing above all that you will learn, especially in an exhausting art like BJJ, is the old Winston Churchill maxim: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

You WILL learn to feel like you’re near death with exhaustion, and you’ll realize that you’re not going to die. You’ll learn that no matter how tired you are, you can muster just a LITTLE bit more, just a little. You’ll realize that no matter how bad things are at that moment, this too will pass, and you will put your head down and win, no matter what.

That kind of mindset can only be developed in combat sports, or through training for war.

[quote]XanderBuilt wrote:
It was spilling over into home affecting my relationship with my wife and young daughter.
[/quote]

Hey man. Good to hear you found yourself a path out of difficulties. You’ve got already good advice.

On the lighter side of the matter (I know the quoted subject is important), but be ready for some of this. Picture has plenty of truth in it. At least that is what I’ve found out. And it takes your mind of the work stuff effectively.

Keep it going.

[quote]guhkes wrote:

[quote]XanderBuilt wrote:
It was spilling over into home affecting my relationship with my wife and young daughter.
[/quote]

Hey man. Good to hear you found yourself a path out of difficulties. You’ve got already good advice.

On the lighter side of the matter (I know the quoted subject is important), but be ready for some of this. Picture has plenty of truth in it. At least that is what I’ve found out. And it takes your mind of the work stuff effectively.

Keep it going.
[/quote]

This is priceless, thanks Guhkes. I will remember this. I came home after one of my first MT sessions absolutely upset at how pathetic my right round kick was. But lately i have an elevated mood which is good for learning and reflecting. I have to say home time/family time is probably the best in the last 12 months (my daughter turned 1 in Sept).

[quote]FightinIrish26 wrote:
I am not one to wax philosophical about combat sports because it’s just not in me, and those that do so irritate me nearly to the degree that those who get all poetic about deadlifting and call themselves “Brothers in the iron” or some gay shit like that do.

However, that’s not to say that I disagree with Idaho at all - essentially I believe him to be right in the reasons why you MUST take it seriously. Any guy that can’t physically defend his family has issues in my eyes.

And I’ve heard the saying that all fighters (more likely “most” but whatever) were drawn to this trade because they were made a victim at one time and didn’t know how to react or what to do. As a guy who was ALWAYS shorter than everyone else and had to fight for everything and create a vastly over-aggressive nature to even things out, I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Take up any martial art, but particularly those that require high levels of conditioning and are either very violent (boxing or Muay Thai) or very competitive (BJJ or wrestling), and you’re going to find out some shit about yourself.

It’s going to calm you down, especially with the type of guy you sound like (I’m a bit like that as well) and if you’re not particularly big on religion it might fill that void the way AA does for an alcoholic. I can say that in that respect, boxing saved me - it became more important than that drink or whatever, gave me a reason to stay sober and wake up early in the morning.

But there’ll be some negatives too. You’re going to get a little inured to violence, and you’re not gonna care so much what lines you cross until someone puts you back in your place. If you’re like me, and you came from an environment where stuff got settled physically, you’ll be plenty willing to take it there before others in the real or professional world might. But it’ll probably keep you connected to the street a little more, make you a little more callous, a little harder. More of a man, less of a pussy desk rider, if you get my drift. Be careful with that.

But like I said, even though I’m not much for ruminating on combat shit romantically - and please, don’t ever refer to yourself as a warrior, guys of any art that do that suck major ass - the one thing above all that you will learn, especially in an exhausting art like BJJ, is the old Winston Churchill maxim: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

You WILL learn to feel like you’re near death with exhaustion, and you’ll realize that you’re not going to die. You’ll learn that no matter how tired you are, you can muster just a LITTLE bit more, just a little. You’ll realize that no matter how bad things are at that moment, this too will pass, and you will put your head down and win, no matter what.

That kind of mindset can only be developed in combat sports, or through training for war.
[/quote]

Thanks for your experience and advice on this Irish. Training wise I’ve been looking at your advice on 531 2 day program although for now it will be 1 day a week with the rest on either BJJ, Wrestling or Conditioning work.

I can see how BJJ will fill a big void in my life - a goal, a challenge, a way to de-stress, a way to go 100%. I don’t want to use “my cardio sucks” as an excuse or crutch, I want to get better, leave the mat with a sweat soaked Gi every single time.

I’m going to dip back into this thread every few weeks to read it because the advice thus far is golden. Every bit. Thanks all.