At Gracie Barra Birmingham we’re always reminded, especially when Professor Stuart is handing out stripes in the Fundamentals Programme, that stripes are a personal journey for students. This morning I have spent time reflecting on my journey thus far and working out where I would like my journey to take me in the future.
When I came back to Gracie Barra in April I was around 22st / 309lbs / 140kg, a XXL in shorts and rashguard and an A5 in the Gi but I’d already lost 2st / 28lbs / 12kg since January 2016 by this point. Today I walk at 19st 13lbs / 267lbs / 121kg having lost over 4st / 61 lbs / 27kg total.
My movements were sluggish and off pace as you’d expect. I developed more affinity with strength related moves, and found myself developing mad pressure game, and saw my submissions change from triangles and armbars, when I was 13st-14st, to kimura’s and americana’s. This has been good for my game because without the added weight I wouldn’t have focused on learning strategy and improving my technique for executing those moves, because I was already content with my guard-focused attacks. I think I’m now better at a larger bag of submission techniques rather than having a couple of go-to techniques.
As a natural big guy I know I have to work my weaknesses and playing the top is an easier position for me because of my rugby background, wrestling with my brother, and the little bit of No Gi I did before I started with Braulio in Birmingham. I like guard passing, and I like pressure passing, but I know that I need to have a practical guard to be able to be a better BJJ player. For the last few months I’ve been focusing on getting comfortable with the half-guard. I’d say I’m more comfortable with it, not sure I’d say I’m better technically but I’ve got some sweeps and submissions from there, but I like the position and I’m going to continue to work on it but I need a new focus after the competitions. I’m going to start looking now at a new position and make that good.
Last night I was awarded my fourth and final stripe, on my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu White Belt, by Professor Braulio Estima. I have been consistently training since April 2016, after returning from a 7 year break, and racking up over 140 hours on the mat at Gracie Barra Birmingham. I want to thank my instructors Professor Braulio Estima, Professor Rafael Pinheiro, Professor Stuart Gwilt, Professor Dave Iverson, Professor Nathan Roberts, all of my coaches and all of my training partners – anybody I’ve ever rolled with. Without your support and help I wouldn’t be here.
We’re eleven days away from the Liverpool Open 2016 and eighteen days away from the No Gi British Open 2016 so I’m looking to put my personal development into the mat and bring back some medals for my team.