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Rick Baker is a white belt, and we know white belts are people too. In this instalment of ‘White Belt Fever’, Rick ponders our individual jiu jitsu journeys. 

Last week I decided to try and double-up my training. I looked at how much I was training hourly per week, instead of  just saying 'I did x amount of classes'. A lot of people get paid hourly at work, and I thought I'd try and use this approach to my jiu jitsu to try and switch up my mindset of how it works for me.

Usually I'd do two to three classes a week, life permitting. Now, while classes are obviously invaluable because it is where we learn new techniques, I wasn't putting the mat time in outside of classes to really put them into play. With it being the start of a new year I thought it'd be nice to track my progress and note down how much I'm training, whether it's drilling or rolling, gi or nogi. This really simple process worked great for me to look at a complete overview of my training and see what I may be lacking.

I'm competing again in a couple of months, so I'm starting to take my mat time more seriously; getting in early for class, staying back when I can, trying to squeeze in extra hours of open mat time wherever I can based around my work schedule (I work full time, as do many of you I'm sure). By keeping track of everything I do and writing it down my overall focus on Jiu Jitsu has shifted massively, in a good way, as it allows me to view my jiu jitsu in a more objective way.

The problem is I start to compete with myself. In the first week of 2016 I squeezed in six hours of training, slightly above my average week last year at a guess. The week after that I got in ten hours of training, which was pretty comfortably around my work and life commitments too (I have a big dog that needs a lot of exercise, manage a business, write about jiu jitsu and I have a little bit of a social life).

Due to my competitive nature, this week I want to try and beat those ten hours and put more mat time in. Knowing how my brain works I'll want to up it every week; get more mat time in and push my body and my brain to the maximum, and no doubt other parts of my life will suffer for it. Now, thanks to past experience and the gift of foresight, I can see this coming a mile off and it's led me to reign it in slightly and really think about what BJJ is to me.

It started out as self defence and curiosity. It then turned into a way to keep myself slightly in shape, it then turned into stress relief, and has now become a little bit of the fabric of who I am, and without it, I'm not ashamed to say I'd feel a little bit lost. It keeps me grounded I guess. Where do I want to take it? Well, at my age (28) and commitments (house and aforementioned Dog) I daresay I'm not going to be the next JT Torres, but I would like to compete and do well. This gives my training some focus and something to work towards. In order to compete competently I'm going to have to keep my mat time up to sharpen my technique and keep my cardio in check.

By thinking and processing this info, I realised what BJJ is to me, and that's the beauty of it. It doesn't matter what your training partners are doing, as there end goals might be different to yours. Yes, we all want to be the best, it's only human to compete with each other and size each other up, but if you start comparing yourself to how others train and how much mat time they put in, you're on a losing path. Focus on what your goals are, what obstacles you need to get past to get you there, and think about what BJJ is to you, and once you figure that out you can be at peace on the mats, and base your training schedule around your end goals. Sounds simple,  but it's pretty easy to get lost in BJJ sometimes, as there's so much out there, this should help you find your path.

As always, hit me up on twitter: @rickofitall if you have any questions and feel free to check out my blog at RedcornerBlueCorner.com

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February 07, 2017 — Jiu Jitsu Style