The 3rd Birthday Blog

I have officially now been a blogger for just over three whole years! Part of this blog has always been about sharing and recording my own journey so every year I am little self indulgent and take my anniversary post as chance to reflect on what’s been happening in my BJJ life. Don’t worry the 1st and 2nd year ones don’t contain any key plot points so you can just jump right in lol!

Untitled“Injuries really suck!”
I think this phrase could have been my personal headline for the last year. When I wrote my 2nd birthday blog I had just overcome a minor knee and elbow injury but these were easy compared to my recent (ish) back injury. I may blog about it fully at some point but it has just never felt right to talk about it too much. But in a nutshell it has pretty much consumed my training since July last year. It has really limited my mat time and has generally stopped me training how I would like to have. I’ve had to really relook and rebuild a whole host of things from a technical viewpoint. I’ll be honest there is nothing more disheartening than being off the mats than coming back and losing even the most basic jiu jitsu movements like bridging. But on the flip side from that point onwards the only way was up!

But you’ve just got to hustle on….
UntitledI won’t deny there have been times this year where I’ve had an epic pity party. The last year has seen more than a few tears (obviously off the mat!) but you either quit or keep trying to improve things. Six weeks before the World Masters I couldn’t even really lift a kettlebell properly but with a great team team, lots of rehab and a mixture of tape and painkillers I managed to make the podium at the World Masters. It wasn’t quite the gold I wanted but the reality was that I couldn’t have been happier in the circumstances. Nine months later I managed to compete in Barcelona without painkillers and strapping. It was slightly nerve racking after such a long break from competition but I was pretty happy with my performance overall.  Even though it has flaired up this week I have still managed to improve technically and physically!

Essentially the last year I had to throw my original plans out of the window and have had to really focused on strength, rehab and basically what I could do rather than what I couldn’t. Hopefully, it’s made me improve my game but it was definitely easier said than done both physically but most definitely mentally!

UntitledBut its not just about injuries – I’ve had a couple of positive changes too!
Firstly, my biggest positive for the year! I finally got my bottom in gear and added a weekly Strength and Conditioning session to my programme! Not only has it really help with my rehab but at the World Masters (and since) I have really felt the difference in my rolling. My numbers and programme have all been heading in the right direction so I have my fingers crossed that I’ll continue to feel the benefit and generally be a more mighty minion!

UntitledSecondly, I’ve started to cut myself a little slack. I thought the last year competitively was a disaster. But let’s be honest a lot of people would have been happy about competing globally and picking up the odd medal. I’m not sure if it was just the injury or also a feeling of being a little bit fed up of being on the competition treadmill but giving myself bit of a break from competition was the right thing to do. The chance to enjoy my BJJ and explore a few things without any pressure has really helped me be more rounded than pure competition training may have done alone. Plus enjoying some time with friends, family and food certainly hasn’t hurt either!

But what about world domination? What next?
Well this year I have lots of BJJ adventures planned but there are training holidays rather than competitions. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t have plans or goals. I’ve currently got two main areas I’m working on….

UntitledTransitions – I’ve found myself thinking about transitions a lot more. Either techniques to help “join the dots” better or in the case of things I already do making them as smooth as butter! So the next year is about the small details and being smarter. Those little things that secure the position, tighten the submission and generally increase those percentage points and doing them more often!

Planning my own way – This isn’t about being a BJJ maverick but more about taking responsibility for my own learning more. I’m lucky not just to have fantastic coaching around me at Factory BJJ but also a range of visiting seminars and exposure during my travels. So I have all access to all the right things; I just need to take responsibility for putting them in my brain and in my game! Not having constant competition plans means that I don’t have that constant external focus for training. I have to find my own motivation and focus whether that’s for data collection during session, recognising holes in my own game or simply spotting something on YouTube that I fancy and might work for me! Whatever it is if I get stuck I always have people around me to help!

flow through youLet it Go! – Linked to the points above I am really aware that I always want to get things right and smoother and not make stupid mistakes. So whilst I am busy thinking about all these things and a few other useless bits of info my opponent is usually busy sweeping me and improving their position. It’s not quite paralysis by analysis but I do need get rid of my own personal mental quicksand and just let my jiu jitsu go with the flow. Hopefully by just letting it go, committing and generally believing in my game more then the transitions and opportunities will come.

I’m under no illusion that these areas are not going to be quick wins. Developing my own focus and tightening my game without overthinking is never going to be an easy task especially trying to do it all at once! So I may not totally know what bit starts actually  working first but I’ll get them working somehow!

Photo Credit – Foto Rolls Photography

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