Gracie Barra Downers GroveGracie Barra Downers Grove

Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone

” Wanted to quit Jiu Jitsu and this is why I didn’t “

I wanted to quit jiu-jitsu at one time.

I was done and could see no future in it for me.

It is crazy to think about now, this many years later and having graduated to black belt, but at the time, I was looking to sever the relationship I had with jiu-jitsu for a few reasons.

I hope my story might influence someone else to continue their own training.

I started training jiu-jitsu at a later age (30) when BJJ first came to North America back in the mid-90’s. I had a spinal injury from judo that seriously limited my ability to train, and still does 20 years later.

I was fortunate to train at a high level school with a fifth-degree black belt right out of Rio de Janeiro. The school was very competitive and placed a high standard on conditioning and high intensity training.

They say that “iron sharpens iron” and I felt that those early days made my jiu-jitsu solid.

However, as I got older and training injuries accumulated, getting on the mat was more and more challenging.

I moved to different cities and was teaching basic jiu-jitsu classes at different gyms. I was only a blue belt. Trying to keep to the standard that I had learned at the competitive school was becoming increasingly more difficult.

I graduated to purple belt, but couldn’t see how my body was going to hold up for another five or six years of rolling. I didn’t see how I could progress. My training became sporadic and I lost enthusiasm.

However, two factors turned me around and I came back to jiu-jitsu with a renewed enthusiasm.

My Head Instructor

Josh Russell of Gracie Barra encouraged me to continue to train at my own pace. I was holding myself to that previous standard and was discouraged that my capacity to do so was diminished.

He told me that there was no shame in me not rolling five hard rounds or just drilling when I had back spams.

His encouragement that I could one day be a black belt renewed my faith in the journey. I would have quit jiu-jitsu without his guidance and I later received my black belt from Josh.

A Trip to Brazil

I made a trip to Brazil as much for the beaches and girls as for the jiu-jitsu. I visited the “Church of Jiu-jitsu” the famous Carlson Gracie Academy in Copacabana.

That experience changed my jiu-jitsu life because I saw how the cariocas made jiu-jitsu a part of their lives.

In North America, the black belts were either high-ranked Brazilians who relocated to teach or professional fighters and martial arts school owners who could train six days a week.

But in Brazil, there were regular guys who wore black belts. They were not athletic supermen and had not won any world championships. But they were highly skilled and found a way to keep jiu-jitsu in their lives to stay healthy and have fun with their friends on the mats. They would show up at the academy, do a few rolls, joke with each other about how badly their favorite football teams had done, then go to the juice stand by the beach after training.

Now this method of training I could sustain. Suddenly, I saw how I could make jiu-jitsu a part of my life and one day become a black belt myself.

A few years ago I was called to the front of the academy to have a black belt wrapped around my waist.

I thanked my instructor and said in all honesty that I would have quit jiu-jitsu if I had not met him.

Over twenty years after my first jiu-jitsu class, I am still on the mats most days and continuing to have a life that involves jiu-jitsu.


credits to : Marc Mullen

Gracie Barra Downers Grove

” Jiu Jitsu for everyone ”

(630) 964 1414

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