I think back to the start of the year and not really knowing how training was going to pan out. Fast forward to recent months and there have been occasions where there hasn’t been room for everyone to train at once. Just shows what can happen in a year.
This has, by far, been my best year in Jiu Jitsu, some major highlights being:
- Two medals at two tournaments
- Training with John Danaher at Renzo’s in NYC
- Meeting Matt Serra and training at his gym on Long Island
- Training at Eduardo Rocha’s gym in Oakland
- Training with, and getting my Blue Belt from Royce!!!
There have been loads of other great bits and some great training this year, but my biggest “gain” has been in my application of Jiu Jitsu. I feel that since Dean has returned to teaching, my understanding of how Jiu Jitsu should and can be has grown exponentially. Whilst I’m still not great, I’m training and rolling in a way that I’d have once thought off limits to someone like me, in a way that will sustain my interest and development for a long time to come – suddenly, a lot more seems possible. And it’s this that has led to probably my single best moment of the year.
I’ve already written about this, but I’m going to mention it again. Shortly after getting my Blue Belt from Royce, I was practicing with Dean and we were rolling and exchanging positions in a really free and creative way – it felt great. I felt great – like I was actually doing Jiu Jitsu, like I was well and reasonably skilled. At the end of that session, all Dean said to me was “and that’s why you’re a Blue Belt”. Looking back now, that was this year’s best moment. For sure, actually getting my Blue Belt was great, but getting that acknowledgement from my instructor meant so much more. Why? Well, because Dean’s my Instructor and know’s where I’ve come from, my strengths, my limits and also sees what I can do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t need or look for that kind of thing – I love Jiu Jitsu, man, I’m obsessed by it, but nonetheless, it felt like the biggest compliment I could receive. So thanks Dean, for your time, your energy and also for giving me the confidence to adopt a style of Jiu Jitsu that makes me smile.
Thanks to everyone I’ve trained with this year – every single person has added something to my training. Thanks especially to Big Dean and Si for their friendship and concern beyond Jiu Jitsu – it’s nice to feel that there are people out there who care and you can trust...I spend my working week with so many people I dislike and distrust that it would be easy to shut off unless you had a few good friends around you to remind you that life can be good.
A great year on the mat then….what does 2009 hold? One thing I’ve learned this year is that you cannot predict what’s going to happen, so I’m not even going to try or worry about it. I just wanto train and feel good. I did have some hope of a BJJ odyssey, but that seems to have been removed in one swipe by the Billionaire owner of the company I work for announcing a pay freeze and no bonuses (I can see his brand new £180K Ferrari from my office window…hmmm) during 2009 – the credit crucnch hits BJJ! We’ll see – I certainly never expected 2 US trips this year – just the way things can work out!
My quest to be leaner and fitter will continue…as always. Yoga and a better diet will help. I’ve been trying this year, but no path to improvement is ever linear so I’m not perturbed, nor am I going to make any excuses. I’ve got to do something though – three colds in three months (yep, I’ve got another right now) has got to be telling me something and it’s hard to train well when you’re not 100%.
So, I’ll close this year by talking about our last session which took place on Sunday - a few hours training (mainly working on Mount and weight distribution – worth mentioning Richard’s return (with Craig!) – good to see both back. Also good to see Toyah, looking very well on imminent motherhood) followed by a few drinks and a meal at Pizza Express. Despite feeling a bit ropey from this rubbish cough I’ve got, I really enjoyed being with those that could make it – it’s this stuff that makes you feel like a “club” or a “team” so thanks to all for your company. And what a great choice – Pizza…food of Ninja Turtles….a poor attempt by me to create a segway to this. I found this a long while back and thought I’d share it. I just know you will try it. Just one of those things you have to do. Enjoy.