Go Easy Its My First Time. . .


Go Easy Its My First Time

Now I have been training for just over 4 years, not that long considering I intend on training until I cannot, however I’m not quite a newbie any more! I do get a lot of questions online and from friends about what they could expect on their first night even their first months and even year. Now it is important to understand that every single person has a completely different journey then anyone else, and that is one of the beautiful things about BJJ. No single journey is the same. So rather then tell them what they will experience I figure why not write up a piece on what I experienced on my first time I stepped foot onto the beloved mats! Have a read and let me know what you think at the end.


My name is Luke, I am about to tell you about the start of my journey into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  I had always wanted to learn the art of South American Ground Karate but for various reasons I never took those first steps, the main one would have to be my pure laziness to get to the schools. I was 30 year old father of two and after a trip to Thailand and returning with Muay Thai Shorts for my children (who also at the time were infatuated with barbie spy squad) they decided they want to learn the art of Muay Thai. Now, they are both pretty girls and they obviously get their looks from their mother, thank god. So as you could imagine I was not too interested in this idea of being them being punched/kicked in the face; however I have found a school that also teach junior classes of BJJ. So I bought them down, with the ever so sneaky plan that maybe I can convince them to go for the gentle art instead. After a few weeks of coercing, daddy`s little girls changed roles into daddy`s little negotiators and had teamed up with the owner of the school. Next thing I know, I was the one being convinced to take my first class.
So here I stand in the foyer of the local SAGK School (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy Gemina Mixed Martial Arts), anxiously awaiting my first class. Thanks to my two children who have decided that this is the sport they want to pursue for the time being, “Daddy it is so much fun you should give it a go” they reassured me in a way only two 6 & 4 year old girls can. The owner of the school overheard them and joined in the chorus “yeah man give it a shot, once you step on to the mats you will be hooked, you won`t look back”. Due to my natural athletic prowess* I am certain that I will pick this up with relative ease,  I mean how hard could it be rolling around in pyjamas with guys half my size? How hard could it be?…
So now for the truth as I mentioned I am a 32 year old male with little to no official martial arts experience, not to mention I was a little beery and had seen fitter days, who is now being told by two children that learning BJJ is cool. I figure learning some self-defence can’t hurt so I agree and sign up. It was all going well until I put pen to paper. Now at this stage my nerves are kicking in because I have no idea what to expect and well watching the “warm ups” after the kids classes look intense enough for my liking. You see the thing with me back then was when my nerves got to bad I would try to find an excuse and talk my way out of it but this time I don’t feel as though I would be able to because both the owner and head coach are both staring me down like I took the last cookie from the jar, which in actual fact, is part the reason I am here, but more on that later…
The time has come and I have been invited onto the mat to take part, introductions have taken place and I am sure that everyone has remembered my name, however my mind is running on a mixture of pre workout, coffee and emotions so I remember no one. I will just call them bro and mate until I remember. So here I stand awkwardly while all my new mates catch up with each other. So this little ball of energy AKA Jo (2x World Champ Black Belt) comes skipping out on to the mat and gets us into the warm ups. The first drill we carry out is called a “shrimp” I wonder to myself as I drag my sorry ass up the mat where this name has come from because without a doubt, I definitely resemble a slug more then a shrimp. This is then followed by a round of half assed cartwheels that resembled a baby giraffe taking its first steps on an Ice skating rink, some forward rolls followed by some backward rolls and then last but not least a move called an Alligator walk…. Google it.shrimp
Thank god that was over I thought to myself as I prepared to slink off into the back of the class to catch my breath and figure out what the hell I am actually doing. I thought I was successful in slipping into the darkness when one of the coaches motioned to the side of the class with two other first timers to commence our introduction to BJJ. After this warm up I was ready to call it a night, but nope just like a good set of steak knives there was more. We went through some basic self-defence, what to do if someone throws a punch etc. Apparently a swift kick in the nuts and run wasn’t the right answer. We learnt how to block the punch, tie the assailant up take them to the ground and that is where the fun started. We were assured that whether we like it or not most fights will end up on the ground so Jiu Jitsu is the most practical thing to learn if we want to defend our self. . . (I dunno about this I still feel pretty strongly about needing some form of striking/defensive knowledge, HOWEVER for a female I would 150% recommend BJJ as THE Martial Art to learn for self defense) anyway I digress. . .   I remembered one thing from the intro class and that was that I didn’t want to be “under mount” it’s a bad place to be… I also remember thinking Yep this is a shit spot but how the fuck do I get out of here and what do I do if I manage to be successful. I was about to find out.

After my introduction I was introduced to one of the Blue Belts at the club who was roughly my size he was a nice guy with a heavy South African accent. Let’s call him Bro (now known as Werner and has his Brown Belt and is a super guy). He welcomed me to the school and gave me a high five and a knuckle bump like I was a part of some kind of street gang, where he then proceeded to throw me straight onto my back, maybe I was secretly joining a gang and was getting jumped in I thought. (It wasn’t as bad as it sounds he was actually quite gentle) As quickly as he threw me onto my back he climbed up onto me and sat on my chest, a position these crazy bastards were calling “mount”, and I am done. I wriggle around for a little while without a clue as to what I was doing when he then prompted me to “Catch an arm and trap a leg” I managed to show my speed and precision in the movement and had one side of his body stuck, this is it I thought to myself time to show my natural ability, when in actual fact he gave them to me without resistance but hey I’m claiming it. I bumped around a little bit with no success this giant is still on me like white on rice. So here I am with the monster of a human sitting on my chest for the past 30 minutes or so it feels, back to reality a minute or two has passed and he gets sick of me doing my best Shamu impression so he tips himself over and I ended up in the mount position, I was greeted by “Nice Man, that’s it what now?” apparently tapping on his shoulder and getting off him wasn’t the move he expected but I was done. The Kimono I am wearing has somehow become a Kevlar vest, I am dripping in sweat and having a hard time breathing, I take a look around the school and everyone is smiling, laughing and having fun, it is at this stage I feel a smile creep across my face. As tired as I am right now, I have this strange desire of wanting more…

*Disclaimer I have improved and everyone does some improve rapidly some do not, My rolls with Werner, for what its worth still go the same way  I just have a bit more fitness to not tap due to being tired.

The next morning when I woke up, I went to get out of bed… That didn’t end well I reached for my phone and even while texting my boss to inform him I wouldn’t be in, my fingers were screaming in pain along with 849 other muscles in my body, and although I told myself that was the craziest experience of my life and I wouldn’t be back, I couldn’t help wanting to return onto those mats to punish my body further, oh I meant to say learn more…

4 and half years on I still love training as much as I did on day 3, The people I have met on the mats and in the BJJ community have become some of my best mates, BJJ has given me the opportunity to travel and to train with some of the best in the world. Something that cannot be done in many other sports people choose to pursue. As my journey continues, my knowledge will expand. I have some very clear goals one of which is to be able to give back to the art. It will take time to achieve what I want to achieve but I am determined to make it happen.

As Chris Hauter once said, “You are going to be somewhere in 10 years you might as well have a Black Belt.”

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