Monday, 8 September 2008


Another entry, but I thought it best to keep this one separate from the San Francisco post just to catch up on the last week.

We arrived back from San Fran on Sunday morning – not feeling too shabby as it goes, but jet lag was evident at times. I was faring pretty well although the kids were still on California time and if they’re awake, then me and my wife are awake so this delayed all of our recoveries somewhat.

Tuesday I got back to training and we were pretty much doing what we’d done just before I went away – practising certain movements, keeping the core connected, keeping the feet off the floor and then Dean T very skillfully wove these movements into the practice. We spent most of the time looking at escapes from cross side and knee on stomach using these principles of sensitivity to weight and balance and gaining leverage using the legs and the core. I love this stuff – it’s a tough route to take in Jiu Jitsu… a long term practice, but it feels right.
I found it good to get back to training, but the effects of jet lag were ever present and toward the end of the session I was very tired and everything teetered on the edge of cramp with every movement…maybe just a little too soon after getting back? I don’t know – there must be some stuff out there about dealing with jet lag and training etc…
Anyway, next session was due to be Thursday, but I’d agreed to take my parents to Heathrow and ended up getting stuck on the M25 on the way back so missed training. On reflection, I was still pretty tired so maybe it was for the best to have a rest, but I did spend the time in the car thinking through the movements we’ve been doing which I’m sure was useful.

As I’ve mentioned, Sunday I went to a Yoga class. Equipped with my £6.99 mat from Tesco (is there anything they don’t sell?) I arrived feeling a little sleepy and not at all bendy. Not unexpectedly I was the only man there (although I’m told there are usually a couple of others) but I was made to feel welcome. As I’ve said, the type of Yoga is Iyengar – the differentiator with this type I’m lead to believe is that postures are achieved and then held for longer than in other styles. I was pretty pleased with my level of flexibility in comparison to some of the people that have been doing it longer, but was surprised at just how tough it was! Like many other people I guess I thought that yoga was all gentleness and joss sticks, but half way through a few of the poses I got the muscle tremors and was desperate for the instruction to relax! After just one session I can feel a difference – my hamstrings and shoulders definitely feel like they’ve worked. I can see already that if I keep this up my strength, muscle tone and overall fitness will improve…no doubt at all. My objectives with Yoga…all driven by BJJ are: regain lost flexibility; strengthen my back; strengthen my core. I can see this as something that has longevity and many benefits, but we’ll see how it pans out – after my first session I feel very positive. The only thing I felt a bit strange about was the “Ommm” stuff at the beginning, but I guess I’ll get used to it – I still remember how odd bowing and “kihap!” was when I started martial arts.

If anyone reading this has thought about Yoga I’d say definitely give it a go. I was inspired to give it a try by Dean T and also watching Rickson in “Choke”, but also as I’ve read good things about it in relation to health and backs. I would say however, that I’ve also read about an upsurge in injuries form people trying to do it from books, DVDs and unqualified instructors. Having done this class I would definitely advocate finding a class with a qualified tutor. Getting the hands on corrections really is necessary and makes all the difference to the efficacy of the poses.

As I type this, I’ve just gotten another year older – I’m now 34. That’s not ancient, but I can feel time ticking on - things creaking that didn’t before. I’m still on my journey to my milestone blue belt and hopefully that will come to fruition next year. So I’ll ask the same questions as last year – older? Yes. Wiser? I think so. With Dean T’s help I’m starting to see how to train Jiu Jitsu in the way that it was intended and with it, practices, like Yoga, that are going to sustain me in the long term. I want to remain active and stay healthy right through to old age. Lots of damage has already been done with Rugby etc, but I want to limit this as much a possible and in achieving this, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to train and regularly beasting your body is sometimes fun, but a surefire path to niggling injuries. I want to train smarter, not necessarily just harder.

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