- Why/How did you start BJJ?
When I got to Lancaster I decided I wanted to get involved in a combat sport. I was introduced to BJJ through the MMA society at Lancaster University. The instructors for the society, who are the founders of Kaizen Academy, were all very helpful and encouraging. They provided an approach that allowed me to see the advantages that BJJ could offer, both as a sport and as a method of self defence from very early on.
- Can you remember the first thing you learned?
Half guard. We learned how to retain guard against an attacking person whilst looking for the underhook. From there we looked at how to progress into side control, how to obtain the mount position and finally how to setup an arm bar submission.
- What do you love about Kaizen?
The Kaizen atmosphere! This is made up of so many components. The coaches are all very friendly, patient and encouraging. Their style of teaching is open and focuses on the principles behind the techniques being taught, as well as the specific details for the series of moves being focused on. All the Kaizen members are kind and great to train with. People regularly meet up on the mats, happy to exchange new information. They regularly encourage others to get involved with techniques that they have learned and challenge each other with their new moves or ideas.
- What’s your favourite aspect of BJJ?
The translation of BJJ knowledge/techniques to real rolling and sparring time. What you learn can be tested at any time by anyone on the mat. Sometimes people will crush your technique by seeing it in a totally different way, this then forces you to evaluate how you are performing the technique and if there are any alternatives or modifications for you in order to combat their game. It’s a very think-on-your-feet kind of sport.
- What advice would you give to yourself a year ago?
Technique beats power! I always knew this was true, but when I first started rolling my mind would go to mush and I would try to go as hard as possible (‘going ham!’) to beat someone. Time has taught me that powering through problems in BJJ without technique winds you up in a very bad spot against a skilled opponent!
- Where do you hope to see yourself, BJJ wise, in a year?
Hopefully wearing the blue belt 😉 Would be nice to see some stripes on there too. Until then I want to keep frequently training, honing my techniques and gaining all the competition experience I can.
- What’s been the best thing about doing BJJ?
It’s a sport that gives you confidence, satisfaction and a real sense of achievement. It has changed the way I approach my everyday life for the better- I’m much more likely to be analytical of a situation now, rather than dive in head first and hope for the best.