Before Jiu Jitsu
I used to love lifting weights, strength training specifically. I started lifting as a teen and continued into my late twenties. I loved pushing myself to curl more, bench more, that feeling like I was hulking out. I loved the pump I’d walk around with after a 2 hour gym session but my cardio sucked. Weights alone aren’t great for building cardio.
I ran when I had to while I was in the military but I hated running. While serving, I also practiced Capoeira, break dance fighting from Brazil, fun but not practical for self defense. Overall, I had decent cardio for a couple of years when I was forced to. After I wasn’t forced to, my cardio dropped off like a cliff.
In my late twenties, I was active physically but I didn’t make all the best choices for my diet and other health needs. As the years went I got worse. I smoked until I was 34. I ate crap, like McDonalds and Wendy’s and didn’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. I started to get lazy, overweight, bags under my eyes and constant fatigue.
After life hit me, I started back at the gym, lifting, running and eating better. I dropped from 220 lbs to 165 lbs, I still didn’t look that healthy, my strength gains were as expected but my cardio was still lacking. My wife would describe me then as gaunt in the face. I also couldn’t get rid of some of the fat around my midsection. For a thin American, I was probably pretty typical of my age.
I also had the fortune to have basically two deflated cheeks for a butt. An affliction I was cursed with my entire life. More strange was the size of my leg muscles in comparison to my butt.We speculate that my legs have over compensated for the lack of butt my entire life, making it unnecessary for me to have a butt. Why am I telling you about my deflated butt cheeks? I am telling you because anything is possible with Jiu Jitsu! Even growing a butt.
Our Jiu Jitsu Journey Begins
A year ago, Jen and I enrolled our little crew into MMA. They wanted a sport activity and we needed one they could all do with reasonable logistics. Luckily, there is a MMA gym in our town that allowed them all to train together, ages 5,6, 8 and 8. After watching them for a couple of months we decided to give it a try too and then Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) became our family activity.
Since I started BJJ, my 5K times have been reduced from a 9 min/mile to 8 min/mile. I wasn’t looking to become an expert in a year, but we did get our blue belts in 1 year, that was cool. Aside from developing more confidence, cardio and self defends skill, I got really fit. My build is more cut, more muscular, I have a 6 pack abs, cut pelvis, chiseled obliques and like I said I grew a butt where I had none my entire life.
I grew a butt from nothing, like freaky magic, or wishes but in real life!
The special recipe for growing a butt was in the way that BJJ requires you perform movements such as shrimping, bridging, sit-outs which require the use of those butt, hip and leg muscles. I had never been able to target them so effectively. I also developed nice obliques like I remember being told I didn’t have the right body for. Actually, every muscle on me is more pronounced than when I lifted weights and my stamina better than I got from running thanks to BJJ.
BJJ is a full body workout without question. There is no planning to work the pecs, or legs, you just do it, through rolling and drilling you push your entire body in a fun game of human chess.
I’m not as big as a body builder would want to be, and I don’t want to be. BJJ wouldn’t get you big like Ronney Coleman. Most of us don’t wan’t to be impractically big, we want to be practically strong and to have good stamina. We want useful muscle, speed, a body that can keep up with our lives. BJJ does that.
BJJ is also easier to get a full body workout from for the newbie. Your first session, day one can be a full body workout in an hour. If you’re just getting into BJJ, it might seem like a lot, but force yourself to go at least 3 days a week, preferably more. The first 30 days are the hardest, it’s those days that your body is acclimating to the challenge. Muscles you’ve probably never felt will be sore sometimes.
You are also ready to train BJJ no matter what level or where you are coming from. People will work with you without question. If you still smoke, your fat, your just out of shape, it doesn’t matter because we have all been there. You are NOT too fat to do BJJ. No one expects you to hit the mat day one and last a whole hour without stopping to ever breath and get back some of your stamina.
The most dangerous thing to your training is deciding you’re too tired to go one day, and deciding to skip class. Every time you do that, it gets a little easier to skip class the next day. This is how failures are made. If you make it through the first 30 days then that is how a new healthy lifestyle is made.
You will be starting your new healthy lifestyle, and you will be glad that you did.
It wasn’t until I started BJJ that everything just clicked.
Renzo Gracie said “There’s more philosophy on these mats than at any Ivy League school in America”. I didn’t get that when I first saw it, but now it makes more sense.
If you are curious about how different workout compare for burning calories, checkout Tim Bruce’s calorie chart.