I am sure I am not the only one on this journey. Eat, Work, Roll repeat. Well at least I was. The year 2018 was a year full of injuries; some self-inflicted, some freak accidents.

I was dreaming of BJJ all the time; new techniques, better positions I could be in, the invention of new chokes that I never knew existed. It’s a real pity I could not remember them when I woke up, let alone execute them. Awake – I’m a white belt with one tip; asleep – I was a blue belt on the fast track to purple.

Late 2017, when I broke up with my then girlfriend and she said I needed an outlet something beyond my all-consuming job. At the time I was working 7 days a week for most weeks of the year. I promised her I would take up a hobby and that it would be something I’d had my eye on – Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. There was good reasoning behind this as the wife of my friend ‘Big Pat’ said that ever since he had begun BJJ a year earlier, he had become a different person. Something that wasn’t work or sitting in front of a television. Something where he was learning and he was addicted to the art. On a side note, it’s ironic that at 6’3, 100kgs on a good day, that I am in fact ‘Little Pat’.

The day I saw Big Pat submission grapple (also known as no-gi rolling) at another school, I knew it was something I had to do. I had to learn. I couldn’t be left behind, missing out on whatever it was. The mysticism had me hooked. I rushed home to find a gym a bit closer to home, as I live in the city and have been wanting to become less reliant on having a car. I was blessed to find Kaizen Lab Jiujitsu just 2 blocks away from where I live. I read a couple of reviews and sent an email. The following Monday, 26/2/18 I was sitting on the bench at the gym, a piece of wood I became familiar over the next couple of months, as I begun the slow recovery from appendicitis and suspected Crohn’s disease. 

This didn’t stop me from learning. I immediately signed up to Stephan Kesting’s online newsletter which was a great source of BJJ material. He has some classic quotes, certainly in his street defence series, which includes: ‘That depends, if the guy is high on crack, he may not feel his arm cracking’. I also found some other sources for online information. 

The day after my first visit to Kaizen Lab, I went to work and created a calendar invite for every time there was training or an open mat. This is how I began. Class begins at 6pm so at 5pm I get a reminder, telling me I have 15 minutes to leave work. There was no more procrastinating and I rarely took my work home with me.

BJJ has made me an efficient operator in my 9-5 job. I decided that unlike the year 2017, if it’s not done by 5pm, it won’t be done that day. I rarely left work without having done all my tasks and my calendar had made me far more efficient than ever before.

I typically ate lunch at my desk so I could watch BJJ videos. Often researching the chokes that someone has told me about, that I will likely never see such as a Rommel Choke, Peruvian Necktie or even the Elvis Choke (which I am lead to believe does exist) so that on the rare occasion that such an opportunity should present itself I would be better equipped. 

Injuries got in the way last year though, first I had my ankle plate removed (which actually made BJJ more comfortable), I ate the curb after the End of Financial year function which scraped open my face, that eventually got infected, busted a few ribs before wrapping up the year, one month prior to Xmas by getting cartwheeled kicked in the mouth, causing the snapping of one tooth and the clean knock out of another (pretty stomach churning). 

Believe it or not, the physical pain is nothing on the mental pain of not being able to roll. I’ve gotten through far tougher, with a staph infection at 15 that stopped me from walking for 6 weeks, cancer at 25 and a fractured ankle when I slipped on a step at 30. A couple of busted teeth is a walk in the park!!!

Since the tooth incident I’ve had a two week diet of baby food and taken a self-imposed break from BJJ. I can’t stress the benefits of properly rehabbing an injury and not returning to the mat too early.

After a hiatus of four hours of root canal work followed by three months with a tooth splint, I will be returning to the gym to begin my training. I am making one change to my workout though… not stepping on the mats without a mouth guard! So be gentle and I look forward to being welcomed back into the Team soon! I cannot wait!!!