I believe your wife is a black belt too, how is it being a black belt couple?
I guess it's pretty good most of the time; we wear matching outfits for training.
It's good always having an experienced partner to bounce ideas off and work on new stuff with before we introduce it into the classes. She doesn't moan at me taking over the TV for hours to watch fight footage because she would rather watch that with me than some crap reality show instead.
She has been a black belt for a couple of years now, the first and only female black belt in the UK, there only being one other female black belt in Europe I believe. She is pretty awesome.
It's a pity that she got a competition career ending injury (sacral iliac joint) because I'm sure that she could have been world champion. Watching her spar with some of the world's best was amazing.
On top of that she is 50kg and will train with anyone; the closest guy in weight at our gym is still 68/70kg that is a massive +40% body weight difference. Imagine if everyone in the gym was way stronger than you and everyone outweighed you by at least 40% of your bodyweight, how would you do every session.
She exemplifies Jiu Jitsu, the smaller guy beating the bigger guy and that is why she is a black belt!!
Whilst all this sounds awesome and most guys think it is great that your wife would train with you so you don't get grief for being at the gym all the time, there is a downside. Imagine if you argue with your wife who doesn't train, you escape to the gym for a couple of hours for some "rolling Zen" and forget about her. I don't have that luxury!!
In what way does Brazilian Jiu Jitsu differ from other martial arts?
It differs from most other martial arts because of the training methodology but it is not unique, it shares this kind of training with other 'alive' arts and combat sports such as Judo and Sombo to name but a few. This is why I believe that these 2 examples make perfect add-ons to your Jiu Jitsu base.
With an awful lot of other martial arts there is usually one person doing something and their partner being compliant so the thing they are trying 'works'. With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, more often that not, you have resistance. You start off trying to apply your technique on a partner offering some resistance then the better you get at applying the technique the more resistance you get in return until you can work the technique correctly against 100% resistance.
Another thing is about belt promotions. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is all based on performance, if you can do it then you are good enough, most other martial arts just have a syllabus that you have to complete which usually involves some kind of kata or pre-determined moves then you can get your next belt.
I went from being an absolute beginner in martial arts to black belt in Taekwondo in 3 years with no prior experience; it took me longer than that to get my first belt in Jiu Jitsu.
Have you competed at all? Who was your toughest opponent?
Yes I have competed in every different style I have done. I think it is crucial to try competition even if it is only once just for the experience of the pressure and having to perform efficiently under stressful situations.
Competing has many benefits but one of the main things for me is that it helps you to overcome yourself. To hear the voice inside your head telling you that you will lose, you will be embarrassed and everyone on the internet will think you are no good, then over-ride that and still compete anyway regardless of the outcome, that's the healthy way. Whether you win or lose the sporting contest has no real world consequence and changes nothing, when you wake up the morning after, you are still you, you just hurt less if you won ;0)
Competition helps you overcome that fear because as long as you try then you never really lose.
I love this quote from Rafael Mendes, one of the best BJJ competitors around at the moment "You learn more from defeat than from victory because winning makes you celebrate and think the mistakes you made were not enough to harm you. Now in defeat you analyze every second and it makes you reflect more.
Everything is Jiu Jitsu is always a lesson learned.
I tell my students to try competition and have these 4 rules for competing;
- If you agree to compete, make sure you turn up and honour your commitment
- Br professional, be prepared and make weight
- Give 100% and do the best you can do
- Enjoy the experience and learn from it
I fought some very tough opponents and even though it's obvious and maybe even a little clichéd but my toughest opponent was always my wife............just kidding, the toughest opponent is always yourself for reasons including but not limited to the reasons as above.
Any time I got worried about the small stuff I would read Man In The Arena etc, the most inspirational quote I ever read.