Shutting down this blog.

10 years ago I started blogging about my jiu jitsu journey. A lot has changed since then, and my priorities have shifted.

Jiu Jitsu no longer represents a priority in my life, it has become something that I fit in between the things that have become my priorities. And this is OK, because for me this is all jiu jitsu needs to be.

This will be the last post on this blog, and then the time comes to renew the domain, I will let it expire.

Thank you to everyone who shared this journey with me, hopefully I’ve shared some mat time with you, or I will in the future.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

On endings.

“I will miss you too Pooh. I will miss you very, very much.” – the final words of Christopher Robin in Winnie-The-Pooh

Hard decisions are never easy, they wouldn’t be called hard if they were. It is therefore with some sadness that I write this post.

Due to circumstances related to Infinitus Jiu Jitsu’s training location (two weeks ago the landlord, as per the rental agreement, gave us a months notice) and the stresses of my professional and personal life, I’ve decided to no longer continue teaching at Infinitus Jiu Jitsu. In short, at the end of April, we will close.
When I first opened the club back in March of 2014 I had no idea what path my life would take. Since then many things have changed and many events have happened, both good and bad, that have finally brought me to this place.
This is not something I ever thought would happen, but life sometimes has a way of making your mind up for you. If the only factor involved in the decision was location, we would simply find a new one. My personal and professional life have also gone through major changes over the past few years and as such my priorities have changed, so this decision is also about what is best for me and my family.
Hopefully you can appreciate how difficult choices like this can be.
To those who have shared the mat at Infinitus with me these past four years, both current and ex students, as well as practitioners from other clubs and schools, I thank you for your part in this journey.
To all my current students, both adult and children, thank you for your support and for really teaching me what jiu jitsu is about.
From the 1st of May this site will revert back to a blog, detailing my personal journey through jiu jitsu. I hope you’ll consider sticking around.
Please enjoy some of the highlights from the last four years in a gallery of images below. Feel free to imagine your own sad closing music playing overhead.

Thoughts on belt ranking

Recently there has been some debate online regarding belt ranking, specifically the coral belt that is awarded to 7th degree black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

It started with a BJJ black belt who was awarded his coral belt by his students.

It escalated into the leaders of two pretty big associations publicly squabbling over the requirements to achieve coral belt.

Last night I discovered that a legend in the BJJ community was awarded his coral belt by his son, from the sounds of it due to relations with his senior family members, and the recent passing of his father, meaning no one else would have been able to award him that belt. I’ll be honest in that I’m not too sure of this myself.

What I do know is that after all of this, I feel like burning my belt.

I’ve worked hard to achieve the rank I wear today. In the grand scheme of things, the belt means nothing more than time and experience on the mat. But I’ve put that time in and, I believe, earned the rank I wear. It’s taken me 10 years what some would do in 6 or 8, but its my journey and I’ll walk it as slow as I want to.

That being said, my lineage is one of many, there are many groups and associations within BJJ, each with its own rules and guidelines. One such group is the IBJJF, which has certain guidelines regarding belt promotion. There are others, like Gracie Academy/Gracie University, from which my rank originates, that have their own guidelines. Some choose to follow the IBJJF, some don’t. Each one has it’s own specific requirement for achieving and awarding rank.

What has bothered me about all of this is that when this kind of mud slinging starts happening online, all it does is break down the BJJ community, not build it up. If there are no strict guidelines on how to award rank that everyone who does BJJ must follow, then how can anyone comment on anyone else being awarded a rank? If we don’t all have to follow one set of guidelines, how can we comment on what constitutes a black belt, or any other belt, from another school or association?

Some time ago I made a pact with myself that unless a situation effects me specifically I will not comment on it online. This week I broke that pact because all of it annoyed me. I won’t be doing that again.

Some days I wish everyone (and I mean f***ing EVERYONE) in the BJJ community would just stop commenting on everyone else’s rank, way of doing things, whether someone deserves a rank or not and just focus on the thing I try to focus on every time I get onto the mats, working hard to be a small degree better than I was the last time.

 

Gracie Jiu Jitsu Cape Town Tag Team Tournament and new promotions

Congratulations to Dino Calitz, Tian Visser and Jonathan Bossenger on their promotions today at the Gracie Jiu Jitsu Cape Town belt ceremony.

Dino and Tian were awarded 2nd and 1st stripe on their blue belts respectively and Jonathan was awarded his brown belt.

Special thanks also to everyone at Gracie Jiu Jitsu Cape Town and our head instructor, James Smart.

Personal Evolution of Jiu Jitsu

One often finds that with jiu jitsu (as with most things in life) being able to determine personal progress is difficult. Mostly this is because you are living through that progress. So you can’t really compare yourself today from where you were say a year (or more) ago. This is made even more difficult when you have the same training partners, as you are improving each day along with them.

One way that you can compare yourself is to look at old competition footage and examine the differences. I recently competed in a local no gi competition and, thanks to one of my regular training partners who always records these things, I now have the ability to compare myself this year to myself when I competed in the same event two years ago.

(Note, due to illness I didn’t compete last year which is a pity as I would have like to seen the year on year progress.)

Here is the video from 2015

Here is the video from this year

Some things that I notice almost immediately

  1. I’ve developed a bit more of an ‘aggressive’ game. I don’t know if aggressive is the right word, but I definitely take a more active approach to both defence and attack now than what I used to. While I still train a patient approach during my training I’d like to think that in competition I am more focused on Keeping it Real vs Keeping in Playful.
  2. I react better and with more focus. Watching the 2015 video there are some places where I know now I would do things differently. Early on in the 2015 match I allow my opponent to take side mount, something that I would definitely not do today.
  3. My movement now has more purpose. Also, during the stand up phase of the fight I am more focused on keeping good posture.

There are also still areas where I can improve.

  1. I need to work my take downs. I still rely on my opponent to shoot for a take down and then defend and control from there.
  2. I need to improve my open guard foot lock defence. I’m mostly sure that the only reason I didn’t get foot locked is because I was able to use my size to my advantage in defence. I’m not 100% sure that if my opponent was bigger or stronger I’d have defended as well.

It’s quite fun to be able to visually compare yourself to your past self. My current motto for jiu jitsu is that I don’t want  to be better than anyone else, I just want to continue to be better than what I was yesterday. Being able to review my jiu jitsu from 2 years ago and today at least gives me hope that there is progress.

 

An open invitation to my training partners, past, present and future.

Saturday 15 April 2017

2017 marks my 10th year training in the art of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I’ve never been a ‘full time’ practitioner, training 5 days (or more) a week. With work, family and various other responsibilities I’ve managed on average over the last 9 years to train for 2 – 3 days a week. A rough calculation puts me at around 900 hours of mat time.

As I move closed to 1000 hours, I’ve started to realise two things. Firstly, that I still rely too much on my size and weight. Secondly, that my status as the ‘most senior’ (whatever that means) rank at my current training facility (my own Gracie Garage), means that I do not get pushed past my comfort zones enough.

This needs to change.

Therefore, as of this week, if I am rolling at my Gracie Garage, I invite you to roll me with in what I like to call ‘Purple Belt Shark Tank’. The rules are quite simple

  1. I must never be allowed to rest. No breaks between rolls, no time to put my gi in place or retie my belt. If a submission happens (either yours or mine) start over straight away from where ever we are. If the timer goes off, do not stop. Keep going until someone comes to take over from you. I want to be smashed.
  2. If you want to roll with me, just do it. If I am rolling with someone and you want in, take over from them, in whatever form that takes. If it means that I am on top of someone and you want take my back, take it. If you want a specific position. Stop me, put me there, take it and go.
  3. Whenever we start a roll, you get to choose where we start. If back mount is your favourite, take it. If you are a side mount person, it is yours.
  4. You are allowed to be a little impolite. During a jiu jisu sparring session it is a common courtesy to ‘slap & bump’ as a handshake. However this will give me time to rest. I will not take offence if you just start attacking me with no handshake.
  5. My safe phrase ‘I’m broken’. This is the phrase I will use to indicate that I need a short break.  Please respect it.

I look forward to seeing you on the mat!

Jonathan

2017 Gracie Jiu Jitsu Cape Town Schedule

In 2017 Infinitus Jiu Jitsu plans to visit our local Headquarters, Gracie Jiu Jitsu Cape Town at least once a month. Thanks to the administration and scheduling skills of Leon Visser, we have a calendar mapped out for the year ahead.

(Last Monday of the month) – 30 Jan @ 19:15 [Master Cycle]

(Middle of the month) – 18 Feb @ 10:00 [Gracie Combatives] & @ 11:00 [Open Mat]

(First Thursday of the month) – 2 Mar @18:15 [90 minute roll]

(Last Monday of the month) – 24 Apr @ 19:15 [Master Cycle]

(Middle of the month) – 20 May @ 10:00 [Gracie Combatives] & 11:00 [Open Mat]

(First Thursday of the month) – 1 Jun @ 18:15 [90 minute roll]

(Last Monday of the month) – 31 Jul @ 19:15 [Master Cycle]

(Middle of the month) – 19 Aug @ 10:00 [Gracie Combatives] & @ 11:00 [Open Mat]

(First Thursday of the month) – 7 Sep @18:15 [90 minute roll]

(Last Monday of the month) – 30 Oct @ 19:15 [Master Cycle]

(Middle of the month) – 18 Nov @ 10:00 [Gracie Combatives] & 11:00[Open Mat]

(First Thursday of the month) – 7 Dec @18:15 [90 minute roll]

The Infinitus Jiu Jitsu Creed – the philosophies we train by.

I will never stop learning.

I won’t just learn the techniques that are taught to me, I will actively seek out useful techniques to share with the group.

I know there’s no such thing as being the best, there is always someone better than me.

I will build a solid understanding of jiu jitsu through my training partners, for they are my most important teachers.

I will never pass up an opportunity to help someone learn a technique, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.

I am more motivated by self improvement than my next rank, and I know that jiu jitsu is one of the most powerful martial arts of our generation.

I will share my knowledge as much as possible.

Jiu jitsu is a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting in my time on the mats.

Given time, there is no technique that I can’t learn.