An insight for those thinking of joining

Rilion Gracie at a seminar in the United States – note the message at the top of the photo! Photo courtesy of

I trained in Rio de Janeiro in January 2007 – where I met a Brown Belt who told me that in the 8 years he had sparred with Rilion Gracie, he hadn’t managed to pass Rilion’s Guard once, incredible. The Brown Belt was 26 years old and weighed about 90 kilos – Rilion weighs 68 kilos and would’ve been in his early 40’s at the time.

BJJ Lifestyle Team will start training in September 2013, in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

You’re reading this blog – so you must be interested. You might be thinking: I feel reluctant to go along, but I would really like to see what it’s like to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I feel anxious and don’t know what to expect. I might get hurt, I don’t want to fight anyone. I don’t want to get punched or kicked. I don’t want to feel embarrassed, I’m unfit – I’ll join when I’m fitter.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, sometimes referred to as ‘The Gentle Art’, doesn’t involve striking of any kind. We specialise on the ground and there are many positions that we practice to dominate an opponent. Equally, there are many escapes we practice should we find ourselves being dominated. We finish fights with a submission – by submitting people. There is no striking of any kind, so you won’t need to worry about getting hurt by someone punching you.

We operate what we call a ‘tap’ system, where we ‘tap’ the person we are sparring with a couple of times in quick succession to indicate that we want to give up if we can’t continue. It’s a simple system, but one that works very well and ensures we rarely get hurt.

I started my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Journey in June 2006. During the last seven years, I’ve experienced many emotions. I have decided to start a team with the intention of creating what I believe is the perfect training environment. Training consistently is very important in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) if you want to develop your skills and that of course includes my own training. I intend to offer a training environment where we can learn together, become friends and above all else, become a team supporting each other.

It’s hard for some to get started – to try anything new for the first time – but you need to try BJJ. I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve heard say ‘I wish I’d started sooner’ or ‘I wish I’d started in my 20’s’.

I started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when I was 36 and it wasn’t too late – I’m 43 now and intend to train for as long as I possibly can – it’s a way of life. I believe a well-trained person of any age will dominate an unskilled younger fighter, in BJJ.

To reassure you if you are struggling to find the confidence to try a training session – I am very keen to give all team members and those that want to come along for the first time, a very enjoyable and inspiring experience – with no pressure. I have considerable teaching experience gained since I was twenty-one years old. Patience, detail and the avoidance of overload are key to ensuring people pick things up and retain what they’ve learnt – repetition and relaxation being important factors, too.

I’ve personally felt anxious before training sessions and I’m striving to make the BJJ Lifestyle Team a welcoming and relaxing place to be – so that training is something people want to do and not something they are forcing themselves to do. I know first hand, that you can only force yourself to do something for so long before you give up. If you don’t give up entirely, you’ll find reasons not to attend training sessions. I will be working hard to create an environment where people want to be.

If you would like to start your own Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu journey, it would be a pleasure to count you as a member of the BJJ Lifestyle Team. You can contact me by completing the short form under ‘Contact Us’.