Before My Journey
I didn’t start BJJ till 2008. I trained a few forms of Martial Arts, Kung Fu and Muay Thai while growing up. I actually attained my blue sash in Shaolin Kung fu… lol yes Shaolin Kung fu, at Ron days Club in Kitchener, then the Waterloo Kung fu Academy, way back back back in the day… learned a lot of animal styled Gung fu form, stances, and competed in some light contact tournaments as a child at Conestoga Colleges in fact, located in Ontario, Kitchener. Waterloo. Being South East Asian from Lao, a sister country to Thailand, like Canada to the United States. My father, uncles, relatives everywhere knew Muay Thai. Muay Thai was especially predominate during family visits to their houses or when they came over for a visit… Sticky rice, meat salads, Pho, Hennessy, Cognac, Thai/Lao Lumb folk music (sometimes even dancing), Thai/Lao movies, cards and of course Muay Thai fights that were taped on VHS and shipped from relatives to us from overseas lol, a typical family get together, our preservation of our culture hahaha… In Lao it was commonly known as Muay Lao and used interchangeably with Muay Thai… the two countries fought in matches all the time north versus south mainly at the borders, mainly involved a lot of gambling lol… Muay Thai caught on in popularity in North America as the most common coined term and still to this day, same stuff to me lol, heck I grew up watching Thai movies with my parents… Both mom and dad are fluent in the Thai language and yes I can converse in a brokenly form of Thai, very broken, even more broken nowadays…
Muay Thai wasn’t sanctioned by North America, especially in Ontario and most definitely the Tri-City, where I grew up in the 80’s. Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge and Guelph area, which was a mecca of South East Asian immigrants from Lao, some from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and a few others. Muay Thai was illegal to compete in, especially with all the elbows and lower kicks usually below the belt. Only exhibition matches existed, head gear only and no elbows from what I remembered as a little guy. I had plenty of weekends and nights while growing and up to learn and train that art form, with weekends sparring with cousin’s lol… yes fun days of old and past for sure pretty much where I injured my shoulders initially with the elbows. I went home with a lot of bruises on my shins and elbows only to roll them out after sparring with bamboo sticks lol… However the Kung Fu gave me opportunities to compete against others in a competitive format for trophies and medals at the gym at Conestoga Colleges. I still have quite a few sitting around at my parents house collecting dust in my old room that they currently use for visiting guest.
Irony of all this, I eventually would attend Conestoga Colleges to pursue a Civil Engineering Technology diploma in 1998 or 1999… like all students the pressures of life get to you and I quit it all, aside from the lifting and minor pickup basketball every Friday nights at the local YMCA or the gym college. Work, life, partying, girls you know the college life lol… lived at home while going to College sooo I could afford traveling to Toronto on the weekends to party. I faced a lot of useless adversity, self inflicted of course. Shoot even smoked, cigarettes… ? … yes… lol started smoking at the tender age of 15? Or was it 16? Damn… I do remember the first puff, hanging out with a few class mates waiting for the bus in front of the school in the smoke pit… lmao, yes back in the day it was called a smoke pit… inhaled and almost puked lol… rush right o the head! word… all that stuff most parents would dread their child was ever capable of doing lol… Graduated College between 2002 to 2003… worked full time in my graduating field until 2006 to 2007, where I decided I needed further education… moved to Thunder Bay to attend Lakehead University to attain my Honors in Bachelors in Commerce. I met wonderful wife in 2007 lol… felt an urge to get back into Martial Arts… mainly due to UFC. I do remember hosting monthly get together’s while attending Lakehead University in our little apartment and bar visits to watch just the UFC… You bet, Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, and even good old Forrest Griffin lol… It was just getting more popular those days with those guys who are veterans now. MMA was just starting to explode… perfect lol I wanted to train MMA. To do this I had to quit everything… not school though… that damn TOBACCO SMOKING!!!
The single life style had stopped… but it was time to quit smoking… yes I quit smoking… 15 years of it, tonnes of money wasted to plug my lungs. With lots of support from the wife, back then only a girlfriend… thank god for her patience lol… cold turkey does work, if you are determined… I was rid of all that by the new years of 2008. Went to good old LEMMA in the year of up in I believe mid- summer 2008, as I was working out of town in the summers, to sign up… I believe, only Kid lightning and Brett Pearson were in doing their thing… damn did they ever look tough and they said to come during the week day to sign a few waivers and try out a few classes. I was hooked… I re-injured both rotator cuffs between 2009 and 2010. I had MRIs for both shoulders and it was determined by the specialist here in Thunder Bay that I was required to have surgery to remove all the scar tissue, mitigate the funny clicking sounds, and possibly minimize my hands and arms numbing sensation. The downtime from any physical training was 6 to 12 months for both arm as explained by the specialist. She specified that I may only regain up to maybe 75 percent of my full strength back and that there was a chance this surgery wouldn’t even work correct the issues. This wasn’t an option I could handle. I was going be 31 going on 32. I didn’t want to stop now.
I re-evaluated my Martial Arts training and started training in a GI and no more Nogi or MMA, in hopes to alleviate any further injuries to my shoulders… obviously I wasn’t going to be an MMA world champion… false hopes and dreams lol, especially while training 2 to 4 times a week and working on a University degree. Which was my first goal when moving to Thunder Bay in the first place, I might add. Had to pay my own way to go to school and that came with a price as well…lol. Maintaining the relationship part was a little easier, thank god she let me out as much as I did to train lol. Regardless, something had to give. Subtraction of the striking and getting hit in the head lol… Hah! This is where I believe my BJJ journey actually began in, Thunder Bay, Canada. I received my blue belt in April 2012, then my purple belt in July 2014. I’ve been coaching a few BJJ classes, a few times a week since the ending of 2012 at Leading Edge MMA, with careful guidance from our Black Belt head Instructor/Owner Matt Richer, and occasionally Keith MacGillivray who just recently received those same honors last year, and obviously with approval from Dan the Man Moroney… who is currently a 3rd degree Black Belt under Royler Gracie for Gracie Humaita’s team. I believe Dan Moroney attained his BJJ Black Belt in 2001 from Mauriciao “Hunter” Periera way back in the days when i was in Highschool. Attached is a link… http://bravadojj.com/academy-bjj-instructors/4540900245
My first GI I purchased was definitely over sized… I believe it was a Reevo, their first model?… A2 me above first guy row left… I was a little heavy weight… too much pepsi I suspect… HUGE on me lol, no clue what I was getting into… picked up a few other styles and colors of the Reevo, and even invested in a black Break Point with the second pair of pants made with GI material all were over sized lol… but hey… got to start somewhere, let’s just say I wear an A0 or A1 nowadays. I believe there was myself, Big Rig Steve, and Judo Tony who would consistently show up and actually train in a GI, oh and Keith who would be their every Saturday in a GI for Open Mat annihilating everyone… Dan Moroney, would swing by about once a year for seminars which back then was always cool, with all the GI techniques he would review with us… to be honest, to this day I still review them when I’m bored. Travis, occasionally would pop in for classes in the summers and kick the living ass out of me, another primary reason why I stuck with training in the GI… Everyone else primarily focused on MMA and Nogi… yep… future LEMMA stars from Thunder Bay… let’s just say I worked my ass off when I rolled with those boys… they were all athletically gifted, strong, and gas tanks to go for miles. Here I am, in my early 30’s, just quit smoking, overweight 180 lbs to 190 lbs “solid muscle” I might add lol, and crappy shoulders lol click click click… Sometimes after a short nap, I would wake up and my hands were and arms were numb and cold… pretty bad, still occasionally to this day. The GI is where I needed to improve, get better and tighten my game, in BJJ you need to learn how to survive first. To work on my defense and from there transition into a solid a offence.
8 Tips for Grappling After 30
This wonderful article about BJJ over 30, really hit home and thought hey… got to blog… lol. Below is a link to this article written by Nicolas Gregoriades of the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood.
The article discusses how when they were younger that things would never change once they turn 30… but now that they are in their mid-30’s they finally understand what the older guys were talking about. BJJ after 30 becomes a very different experience… I started grappling while in the transition of turning 30 lol nutty and hard to believe…. Oh nutty me. This article also discusses how, when they were younger that they never realized just how hard BJJ can be on the body. Man, am I ever ridiculously sore from rolling lol… The warm ups seem to be a key. Got to eat my wheaties, have a protein shake and stretch right after… It further discusses having slower reflexes and being too late going for a submission or sweeps, which I haven’t been too delimited with, as I started grappling at 30 lol… sooo maybe I’m on an upward curve in this area? yeah right lol…
Below are eight tips which this article openly discusses that can help improve your BJJ training while after you mysteriously turn 30… it will happen… yes it will.
1. Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude
“Your mental attitude (not circumstances) is the most important factor in the quality of your experiences, especially in jiu jitsu.
If you keep telling yourself that you’re too old, then it’s going to come true. But if you’re focused instead on what you can do and adopt good thought patterns you will be much more likely to grow and improve. Here’s a few to start with:
- As you get older, your kinesthetic awareness improves. Because you’ve been in your body longer, you know it better. You are much more in-tune with your capabilities and limitations, and so you can use your ‘physical tool’ much more efficiently.
- Also, although cardiovascular fitness is harder to maintain, you can get way stronger after 30. This is because your tendons and ligaments harden, imbuing you with the oft-touted ‘man-strength’.
- Look at all the competitors over 30 who have a achieved and still hang with the young guns. Hell, Rickson was 30 when he won the first pride tournament. And what about Eddie Bravo, Mario Sperry, Fabio Gurgel, Megaton Dias…are you telling me these guys aren’t still total bad-asses on the mat?”
I agree with all of this above, mental attitude is key. Getting old is a fact of life. Feeling old, as in what you perceive as being old, in another thing. We perceive aging usually as being frail, fidget, weak, and helpless is the wrong perception of what society makes us perceive… doesn’t make sense… old is not after 30, not after 40, 50, 60, 70, or even 80… 100 maybe…? It’s all in your head!
When you get older you develop sensitivity, “kinesthetic awareness” with your body while rolling with others, truth. You have been in your body longer and are in-tuned with it… why not? You know, how to move, when to move, how much to move, and when you want… you will use your body more efficiently and more effectively, period.
The cardiovascular thing however is definitely harder to maintain compared to the young guns “truth”, but apparently your ligaments harden and you develop old man strength, or daddy strength, kind of like improved fast twitch muscle fibers lol… I think… The writer even names off a few guys over 30 like Rickson Gracie, which didn’t even start in Pride until he was 30. Also, Eddie Bravo, Megaton Dias and a few others that still hang with the young guns. Pretty bad ass eh? Note also that Rickson Gracie at his current age doesnt roll… mainly dude to all the damage he has absorbed from all his legendary fights.
After 30, you’ll be like a super strong spider monkey ninja comic book hero in a GI, with grey hair, I got grey hairs already, soooo I can joke hahaha?
“Grey hair is cool,” say’s my wife!!
2. Approach your training intelligently
“The ‘more is better’ approach can work really well when you’re young (it can also lead to over training and burnout), but it’s not the way forward if you’re older. Even though you might be inclined to train harder to in an attempt to make up for your waning attributes, this is the least beneficial thing you could do, because your capacity for recovery is more limited.
Instead of training harder, make your training time more efficient by approaching it intelligently. There are many strategies for achieving this and you will need to do your own research, but here is a couple to start with:
- Drill more. I would suggest that you make drilling (and not sparring) the focus of your training. Although sparring is arguably the most fun aspect of bjj, drilling a technique or sequence can be an almost meditative experience, and it also brings about huge improvements in skill. Drilling also mitigates the effects of the slowed reflexes I mentioned earlier.
- Choose your training partners wisely. This means avoiding 250 lb meat-head who is always injuring people, and instead seeking out those who are devoted to their health and the learning process instead of medal-chasing.”
I agree with all of this above as written by the author. It’s all about quality and not quantity. I believe it was a concept that was brought up and I’ve been using it every time I train nowadays, as graciously advised from Keith MacGillivray, one of our black belts at LEMMA.
After a rapid, super fly cool flow roll session he stopped me and John Veale, who now trains in Southern Ontario as a brown belt with Gringo BJJ. Keith yelled out, “guys why in the hell are you going so fast, flow rolling should be technical and not based to get to one point to another make mistakes and continue moving. The mistakes you make while rolling that fast will translate into your actual BJJ during a live session.” He was right. Quality over quantity, especially nowadays for me, the slower the better, more technical, that way it translates during a tournament format. Sooo, instead of training harder, I now train more efficiently by approaching it intelligently, thus my training has been more effective as an outcome.
As explained above drilling will take you to a state of mind and will help mitigate the slowing of your old man reflexes lol. Coaching classes 2 times a week has given me a wonderful outlook that I can pass on to the guys. Drilling more to help the guys use up some of the needless energy, thus by the end of the class, during live sparring, most will have only enough gas, for myself at least, to only be able to use technique lol. My BJJ personally has improved leaps and bounds with drilling. Drill for skills, say’s Andre Galvao, a world champion black belt, truth.
Additionally, as brought up stated above, by choosing your training partners wisely, this will most definitely prolong your BJJ career, truth. Injuries in BJJ suck, it will keep you off the mat, yes. Instead of trying to fight the biggest and strongest guy out there. Check your ego, BJJ isn’t about winning… it’s about surviving for the long haul, BJJ is a life style. Having a broken neck, arm, wrist, and leg just won’t help, in fact it will hamper your journey and may even make you differ your original goals. In fact, in the long run because of your injury, in turn your training partners will be at loss as well, truth.
Most of us work full time jobs to pay the bills, especially if your 30 lol… Or sooo I’m hoping, 30 with possibly kids, a mortgage, some debts to pay, and other real world responsibilities aside from just BJJ. Unless, you are still living at home and bumming from your parents at 30, damn son… get at it! What do they say nowadays? “30’s are the new 20’s?” Being competitive in a competition however, is a different story, for those willing to test themselves outside of your club. By the way, I compete on the occasion as well, so I absolutely don’t condone competition. Competition is bomb… brings us outside of our comfort zone, we learn from it, and will in most cases help you improve exponentially under those willing accepted adverse circumstances that you place yourself in…
3. Monitor the Health of Your Joints
Scott Sonnon, one of the most progressive coaches in the martial arts, is fond of saying “You’re only as old as your joints.” and nothing could be more true. If your joints are stiff or damaged, you move like an old person. If they are healthy your movement is youthful. Adopting a sequence of joint mobility exercises which take each joint through its full range of motion is one of the wisest investments in your grappling future you can make. I find Scott Sonnon’s Ageless Mobility program to be excellent.
This is something I personally have to take into consideration, look into, and start taking care of, more… specific movements to help increase and free up mobility in localized areas.
4. Stretch Consistently
Because flexibility is one of the first things to decline as you age, it (not strength) should be the focus of all your supplemental training. The best time to stretch is when your tissues are warm, so after bjj class is perfect. I’ve found that yoga offers the most precise and intelligent approach to stretching correctly, and so that is the focus of my stretching routine.
This also is somewhere I need to improve… my flexibility hinders me. Lower back issues etc, all stem from lack of stretching… although I have been warming up lately, stretching is something that will help improve my longevity in BJJ, less pulls, sprains etc…
5. Warm Up Correctly
This is a big one. When I was 20 I could walk off the street into the academy and start sparring literally instantly. If I try that now I’m pretty much guaranteed to injure myself.
Contrary to conventional jiu jitsu wisdom, a good warm requires more than jogging a few laps around the mat and doing a couple of lengths of shrimps and break falls.
Your warm up should include a good selection of dynamic stretches and joint rotations (focusing on the neck, shoulders, hips and knees). My personal warm-up also includes giving each of my major muscle groups a few hard contractions as I feel this approximates the type of loading they are subjected to in training.
Although it’s technically your instructor’s responsibility to get you warm for class, ultimately only you know when your body is prepared for jiu jitsu – so make sure you’re warm before you begin.
(Note – avoid static stretching before training – that should be saved for after.)
Getting my heart rate up has been a big thing before any class… the incorporation of stretching and joint specific movements I will have to continue to work on…
6. Maximize Your Sleep
This was a big one for me. As mentioned previously, your recovery time is longer after you are 30. Quality sleep is the best way I have found to minimize the effect of this. You can read an in-depth article on this here.
Unfortunately having a 2.5 month old my sleep has been hindering… wish as I may and wish as I might… this will continue to suffer until the baby gets to a certain age… that being said with goals of having more… lol what sleep I do get hopefully is shall suffice for the time being.
7. Be Impeccable With Your Nutrition
This is important when you’re a young athlete, but it’s absolutely vital as you age. You can get away with eating pizza and ice-cream several times a week during a training cycle when you’re a teenager, but for the more mature of us that’s a privilege we don’t have access to anymore.
The quality of your nutrition determines the quality of your tissues. As Rickson Gracie says, “You are what you eat”. Low-quality food, and alcohol all lead to inflammation in the body. This delays repair and recovery (notice how that word keeps coming up?), so it’s wise to avoid them. For more information read my in-depth article on Nutrition for Jiu Jitsu.
I love well aged scotch, and cool tasting beer, aka parenting juice?… other than that my intake is quite decent. Lots of fiber, good proteins, and I love my beans and broccoli. Heck, I also drink my coffee black! The only sugar I’ve really intaked has been from the high calorie cheesecake I’ve been eating slowly, as made by someone from our club… huge its was and chocolate lol. Although, after the baby my parent juice has increased slightly… maybe I will have to minimize that due to a tournament in a few months I want to compete in!
8. Consider Supplementation
More and more research is showing that quality supplements can slow the effects of aging and lead to improved health. I have written an in-depth article on this here.
You might also want to consider a more powerful approach: Including TRT, Steroids and Human Growth Hormone. Your hormonal profile changes significantly as you age, and using some (or all) of these can offset the resulting decreases in tissue repair which is so taxing on the jiu jitsu athlete.
To be honest, I have taken creatine when I was younger and was heavily into protein, omega 3’s, vitamins supplements, and even ECA stacks, for improving performance, for lifting amongst other sports… a big waste of money as you had to continue using them. I’ve considered TRT. After further discussions with my life partner in crime, I may take a deeper educated approach once after 40 or 45 with consultations with a physician… especially if I want to continue competitions and reduce my recovery time so I can continue training and competing at a moderate level, truth. Especially, if I want to continue competing as a black belt beyond the ages of 40 and further.
I read an article not too far back about Rickson Gracie giving advice to one of his smaller students back in the day, explaining that as BJJ practitioners we must use our natural attributes for BJJ to be most effective, not verbatim of course… apparently the practitioner was smaller, did well, and used a lot of strength and fight while sparring against bigger opponents. Wasted a lot of useless energy with the amount of fighting would have limited his BJJ career if he maintained course. That being said, Rickson pretty much stated that he should fight like a mouse, strategize like a mouse. Speed, agility, and timing by capitalizing or making opportunities and countering your opponents defense… Rickson I believe for the most part stated that if the little guy continued to practice BJJ like that his BJJ journey may be cut short due to the damage body will have absorbed… especially when he gets older. Our BJJ game should compliment or best body disposition and physical attributes… that’s how we make BJJ a personal expression of this Martial Art. I believe it was from Jiu Jitsu Magazine? I will post it when I ever I find it… again
Regardless of all of these aging issues this article capitalized on how to make the best of things. BJJ after 30 can be super duper awesome, very pleasurable and positive when you place yourself in a good training environment. You still can improve with age. It’s all part of the journey, its part of life. Don’t fight the inevitable, be like water, just flow with it. Maybe there won’t be so much friction to get to the destination. You just have to take the intelligent approach. Heck I’m proof lol…. 36 now… and still going!
Hopefully I don’t jinx myself…
I will be 37 in July… I do plan on writing a blurb on BJJ after 40 lol… sooo in 3 or 4 years you may hear me blabbing about this again… lol.
Maybe we’ll see you out tomorrow for Open Mat at 5 pm at LEMMA.