Saturday, December 16, 2017

Reflections on 100 Hours of Jiu-Jitsu

On Wednesday night I logged my 100th hour of training at One Spirit Martial Arts, the home academy of Prof Pedro Sauer. We sign into a computer every time we visit the school, so I have a record of my "official" training time there.

My trial class happened Monday January 30th, and my first official class happened January 31st, 2017. At the time of writing, I have a little over 10 months of time at the school. As of Wednesday, I spent 52 hours in Gracie Combatives, 34 hours in Pedro Sauer Fundamentals, 11 hours in open rank classes, and 1 hour each in a Gracie Reflex Development class, a morning open rank class, and an evening "lab" class.

In terms of actual training time, I've spent more than 100 hours doing Jiu-Jitsu in 2017 -- but not much more.  My trial class was an hour. In March I spent two hours with Rener Gracie at his seminar in Leesburg, VA. May was busy: I spent two more hours with Rener at his seminar in Baltimore, MD, two hours with Royce Gracie in Takoma Park, MD, and six hours at Prof Sauer's spring camp.  In September I spent three hours with Rickson Gracie at his seminar in Albany, NY. In November I spent six hours with Henry Akins at his seminar in Atlanta, GA. That's only 16 additional hours.

Realistically I only expect to train 5-7 more hours in 2017, based on the dates Professor's school plans to close. I will end 2017 with roughly 120 hours of Jiu-Jitsu instruction.

Where am I on this path? I'm a white belt, as I expect to remain for a while. In the Pedro Sauer system, we receive up to four white stripes on the black bar. Next, we receive a blue tape bar applied to the other end of the white belt. We can  earn four more white stripes, applied over the blue bar. At that point, we are eligible to be invited to test for blue belt. Because I have my blue tape bar, you might say I'm halfway through this process.

How do I feel physically? I'm still 5'9 (thankfully), but I've lost at least 10 pounds. I weighed a little over 158 at the beginning of the year, and these days I float between 146 and 148 lbs. A cleaner diet is responsible for most of this weight loss, but I do feel heavier on days without Jiu-Jitsu. My muscles and joints feel good, and I'm progressing on my path to stop taking medication for rheumatoid arthritis. I just turned 46 years old, and I feel as good as I ever have. I still need to work on strength, and I have a goal of adding pull-ups to my training program in 2018.

How do I feel about my capabilities? I don't feel completely helpless when rolling, but it depends on the opponent. If I roll with a new white belt, I can be very relaxed while he or she is more likely to be tense and obsessed with strength. Against more experienced opponents, or larger opponents, I'm still in deep trouble. I've recognized that anyone who weighs 20 pounds or more than me is going to be difficult. Guys in their 30s are a challenge, and those in their 20s are killers. I completely agree with the Gracie "Boyd Belt" concept!

I feel like I'm getting the hang of moving my hips. I can recognize more dangerous positions. I can usually identify the point at which I'm going to tap out in a few seconds. I'm much more comfortable just being on the ground! I need a lot of work practicing techniques but I can follow along with lessons much easier than when I started the year.

I'm a much bigger fan of Jiu-Jitsu now than when I started. My favorite aspect of the art is the ability to test everything against resisting opponents. I really like being able to immediately feel that a technique or approach is working or not working. If it's not working, I like being about to make adjustments until it is working. I really like that the system is not predicated on strength, or speed, or explosiveness. I can see myself doing Jiu-Jitsu from now until I am very old.

At the very end of the year I will do another year in review post, as I did for 2016.

Can you remember what it was like to have 100 hours of training under your belt? Let me know here on on Twitter!

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