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BJJ is a bit… gay?

 

This is a very common response I get, along with “BJJ doesn’t work”. But I’m not the only one to hear these comments I’m sure!

The fact is Jiu JItsu works. Yes, you will end up in some compromising positions at times that at a glance may seem somewhat homoerotic but, believe me, when another man is trying to break your limbs or choke you unconscious, the last thing on your mind is your (or his!) sexual orientation!

I must admit when I first seen grappling I thought along the same lines. I had a background in Karate, Kickboxing and Kali/Arnis and never had an interest in grappling. Being a professional musician I have seen my share of ‘street fights’ in pubs over the years. Most of those fights ended up on the ground with some dude on top of another dude and swinging wildly, sometimes hitting his target and other times punching the floor. Rarely did a fight remain standing.

I would see these fights happening while singing some ‘Chisel’ and think “oh man, what would I do if I was on the bottom and that dude was swinging at me like that!?” I had no answers playing in my head! Nothing! Until I started training Jiu Jitsu… I no longer think like I used to! I am a hundred times more confident that given a similar situation I can control the outcome.

Once I put those initial thoughts aside and went to my first class the realism and effective nature of the art became apparent and all I could see on the mats was combat. Two people trying to dismember each other! See, you need to realise that when you ‘tap’ to a submission you are saying “ok, you got me.. I would be dead (or broken arm etc) if you kept going any further”. Jiu Jitsu is a combat sport and extremely effective self defense. Jiu jitsu is more than just ‘fighting off your back’.

I think what it all comes down to is this; If you think Jiu Jitsu doesn’t work, you obviously haven’t trained any grappling and are ignorant to the facts. If you think Jiu Jitsu is ‘gay’ let me put things into perspective:

Look at some other sports… Football, for example. League, Union, take your pick. How is it that sweaty men hugging each others hips as they stick their head between two guys legs to pack a scrum isn’t any less ‘gay’ than Jiu Jitsu? Boxing, when fighters clinch to tie up their opponent and break their momentum. Are they not ‘hugging’ each other?

Things that are gay:
Being attracted to some members of your sex.

Things that aren’t gay:
All other things.

Each to their own! But if we ever go head to head in a fight I’ll be the one whispering sweet nothings in your ear as I choke you unconscious 😛

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Meeting Rickson

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So I recently had the absolute pleasure of meeting and learning from the man himself, Rickson Gracie!

Fellow team mate Brent and I traveled the four and a half hour drive to Redfern, Sydney on August 26. The seminar was by far the largest I have been to, with well over 100 people in attendance.

We arrived a little early, enough time to meet up with an old team mate and grab a quick bite to eat before heading back to the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence to get changed and begin learning!

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I also had the chance to touch base with other enthusiasts I have met over the years, which was great because living in the bush, I don’t get to see these awesome people very often!

Rickson taught a lot of invisible jiu jitsu, importance of hip movement, self defense aspects and its importance and a lot more over the three hours! I partnered with some great guys from Ribeiro Canberra (Thanks Renato!) and learned some excellent principles to add to my game!

After the seminar came the lining up, buying merchandise and getting the all important photo and autograph from the man himself! A great day spent with awesome people and learning experience I’ll never forget!

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Why did I start Jiu Jitsu?

It is winter of June 2012, a year after my father passed away. I had not been dealing with his death very well at all. I was 41 years old at the time and while sitting on the couch one Sunday night I suffered sever Vertigo which led to a panic attack and shortly after, Ventricular fibrillation. I spent a week in the stroke and heart attack ward of a hospital until my heart went back into rhythm and another week in the rehabilitation ward before being released. I still suffered vertigo for the following few months and was taking a handful of medication every day to keep my heart in rhythm and my blood thinned.

Approximately five months after my visit to hospital I was invited to go to a friends house to watch the UFC every Pay Per View event. I had a martial arts background from my younger years, training kickboxing, karate and kali, but had been inactive since my mid 20’s. After watching UFC and seeing some Jiu Jitsu used in the fights I developed an interest and decided to start training at the local PCYC under a pro MMA fighter who had moved here just a few years before.

I was hesitant to go to training at first because of a few things I guess… My age! Being almost 42 I felt I was too old to train with younger, fitter guys. My fitness! I was 116kg (255 pounds) and terribly unfit. My confidence! Although I was a professional musician and played to audiences every week, I was not a people person and struggled to make friends or even talk to people! But I pushed myself to go, mainly because I was scared of what happened to me those months prior and felt I needed it.

At first I wanted to do Jiu Jitsu for the fitness and to regain my balance (I was still feeling short bouts of vertigo every day) but in a short amount of time I developed a real passion for the art. It is so much more complex than any other martial art I have ever seen or trained. In the beginning I was overweight and really struggled to move! I felt like a beached whale splashing around frantically trying to get back in the ocean! But the nature of the art was intoxicating and I had to learn more. The Jiu Jitsu bug had bitten!

When a new gym opened in my town about eight months later, all the members I trained with at the local PCYC moved over to keep training in a new location and new instructor. I stepped up my training to four and five days per week where I developed my skills much faster. One year later I was promoted to blue belt, in December 2014.

Skip forward to now, 2017, I am a purple belt and running my own gym. We don’t have black belts within 150km of my town (otherwise I would be training with them!) so when our other gym closed in July 2016 I had a decision to make.. either train in my living room at home with a couple of fellow students or take a responsibility and open a gym! More to come on that subject…

So if you have even been in a bad spot in life with your health, whether it is physical or mental, you owe it to yourself to do something about it. My path was Jiu Jitsu. I would recommend BJJ to everybody regardless of age, fitness level, size, etc for improving both you physical flexibility and fitness as well as your mental health. The time you spend on the mats is a release from those stressful thoughts. You will be so engrossed in the art of Jiu Jitsu there will be nothing else on your mind for that entire time! It will change your life like no other martial art out there. Try it 🙂

Shane