First Degree Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Since, apart from my Mom, only about two other people read this blog, I won’t consider myself too pretentious in announcing that last night I was awarded the first degree of my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt, by Gracie-Barra black belt instructor Alexandre Albuquerque, here in Marbella, Spain. That means, two more degrees and it’ll be time for a Purple Belt.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was made famous in the mid/late 1990’s when Royce Gracie dominated the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as an expert in this relatively unknown martial art. He was beating — not just beating, dominating — people much bigger than himself, and without hitting or kicking. He systematically took his opponent to the ground, and proceeded to choke or arm/leg-lock his opponents into surrendering.

In the years that followed, BJJ and grappling martial arts have so thoroughly dominated all No-Holds-Barred (NHB) fighting competitions, that practically every combative martial art has today incorporated ground techniques, tending towards a common discipline known as “Mixed Martial Arts.” Even having trained in BJJ for nearly four years now, it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is, through the application of just a small set of fundamental positions and moves, to utterly dominate new students who are much bigger, faster and stronger than myself.

For those with a bit of knowledge in martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu would appear to be a fusion of Judo and wrestling. Whereas in Judo and wrestling, the objective is to pin your opponent, in BJJ, the objective is to force your opponent to “submit” (give up, via tapping the ground or you). You achieve this generally via arm or leg locks, joint locks, or chokes. In BJJ sport competition, you also can win by gaining points for things such as improving your position.

The things I like so much about BJJ include the fact that it’s totally reliant on technique, as opposed to physical qualities like strength, speed or flexibility. (However, at the highest level of BJJ competition, physical qualities can certainly provide an edge.) A BJJ match is really very much like a chess match, you generally win by implementing a solid strategy and then catching your opponent in a mistake. I also like that sparring (fighting) in BJJ can be done at almost full effort, with little risk of injury. This aspect makes BJJ a great physical exercise and is one of the reasons it’s so effective as a self defence. A real fight is hardly different than training. (At least that’s what I’m told. I’ve never been in a real fight, and don’t intend to.)

Marbella Submission Fighters

For those living on the Costa del Sol (Spain) — especially in the Marbella, Puerto Banus and/or San Pedro areas — and interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Submission Wrestling, Vale Tudo and Mixed Martial Arts, we are proud to announce the opening of Marbella Submission Fighters.

Opening Thursday, July 1, at the Apolo Gym in San Pedro de Alcantara, we’ll be training Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights from 21:00 (9:00 pm) to 22:15 (10:15 pm). If you’re interested, drop me a line via email or in the comments below.

PS: (Shameless Business Plug) Like that poster design? We’ve got some excellent design staff in our company, who, depending on our internal load, can be made available for your design project. Drop me an email if you’re interested.

Málaga Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship

Tonight was the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) championship in Malaga, Spain, in which three BJJ academies competed, Málaga, Marbella (where I train) and Granada. The good news (sorta), I finished second. The bad news, there were only three of us in my category (white belt, around 75 kg). Each fight lasted five minutes. A win was by either points, or submission.

In my first fight, I was a ball of nerves and lost on points. In the second, I got into my rhythm and submitted the opponent with a foot lock. The judges then indicated that foot locks are illegal in our category, but gave me the win anyway (since they hadn’t announced the rule beforehand.)

Finally, I had to fight the same guy again for the championship, and unfortunately lost by two points, thereby finishing second among the three of us.